In the opening days of 2012 a major winter storm was brewing over the Atlantic and headed for Scotland. This was to become the 2nd major storm the country had seen in less than 4 weeks.
During the night of the 2nd of January the storm moved east towards Scotland intensifying all the time and by 6am winds were starting to gust over 70mph in parts of Argyll.
This pressure chart shows the low pressure system at 6am on the 3rd of January moving into the west of the country. Notice how close the isobars are together – remember the closer together they are the stronger the winds… The central pressure of the storm was at an incredibly low 952mb and the centre moved northeast throughout the day.
The storm really started bearing down on central and western Scotland as daylight broke with gusts in excess of 80mph in Edinburgh, Ayr and parts of Lanarkshire.
By the end of the day the storm was judged to be the most severe for 13 years – since the Boxing Day storm of 1998, which caused considerable damage across central Scotland too.
Although the storm in December 2011 was severe, the winds were far more destructive in this January storm…
Many building were damaged and the streets of central Scotland were strewn with slates and masonry.
Travel disruption was widespread in central areas with trees blocking railway lines and roads. Power lines were brought down and more than 10,000 Scottish homes and businesses were left without power, some for days.
The Forth, Tay and Kingston Bridges were all closed and restrictions were placed on others. The travel disruption extended to not just ferry crossing but also to the air with Glasgow and Edinburgh Airport closed due to the conditions. It’s not very often that airport close due to strong winds, but these were exceptional circumstances in what was a dangerous storm.
Coastal flooding was reported in the Greenock area and also parts of Ayrshire where huge waves were breaching the sea walls and crashing onto the shore.
Thankfully there were no reported fatalities in Scotland, possibly thanks to it still being a holiday, but unfortunately 2 people lost their lives in England, one man was killed by a falling tree in Kent and another by a large wave whilst travelling in a boat in the English Channel.
While the winds battered most of the UK it really was here in Scotland that bore the brunt. The highest gust of wind recorded at our low-level stations was at Blackford Hill in Edinburgh where the wind gusted to 102mph (89 knots). Most stations in central Scotland reported their highest gusts in 13 years!
In the mountains winds reached over 100mph, with a gust of 108mph (94 knots) reported at the Cairngorm summit. Further south a gust of 106mph was reported at great Dun Fell in Cumbria.
Another windy spell swept the country a few days later, although no where near as strong as the earlier storm. However winds still managed to reach 81mph (71 knots) over Islay.
Storms of this intensity thankfully don’t occur very often and the hope is that we won’t see another for quite sometime…