By Matthew Cappucci
London: Storm Ciaran proved to be the worst since 1987 for parts of western Europe, with its 193 km/h gusts, tennis ball-sized hail, towering waves and heavy rains. The storm killed at least 14 people, according to the Associated Press, and caused widespread damage, knocking out power to 1.2 million residents in France and disrupting hundreds of flights.
Now, a new storm – named Domingos by Spain’s meteorological agency – is on the way, and could exacerbate ongoing efforts to clean up from its predecessor.
The worst of Domingos is expected to hit northern Spain and western France along the Bay of Biscay, where gusts exceeding 96 km/h are possible in addition to heavy rain.
A windshield is seen destroyed as the result of storm damage in Wernigerode, Germany. Recording-breaking winds in France and across much of western Europe left at least 14 people dead and injured several others. Credit: spa/AP
To the north, yellow warnings for rain have been drawn across southern England by the UK Met Office.
The fresh drenching atop already saturated soils will make it easier for trees weakened by Ciaran to fall, especially in the blustery winds expected with Domingos.
Ciaran pulls away
After a furious 24 hours that reached a climax mid-week, Ciaran pulled away on Friday. The Met Office announced that Ciaran established a record for the lowest pressure in England and Wales during November; typically, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.
Falling trees killed several people in France, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany because of the storm’s vast area of strong winds. The European death toll rose to 14 on Friday.
A row of four cottages which had their roofs ripped off during storm Ciaran in St Martin, Jersey.Credit: Getty
A narrow corridor of exceptional winds, known as a sting jet, descended from high in the atmosphere in north-west France and the English Channel. Gusts reached 207 km/h in Point du Raz on France’s north-west coast, with a gust to 157 km/h in the port city of Brest. Several locations in France registered their strongest gusts on record.
A string of severe thunderstorms also formed along Ciaran’s cold front, dropping hail the size of tennis balls on Jersey in the Channel Islands. A possible tornado also damaged structures, while winds on the island were logged at 167 km/h.
People make their way on a flooded street in Campi di Bisenzio, in Tuscany, Italy, after Ciaran hit the area.Credit: AP
Ciaran also brought fierce winds and flooding rains to Italy, sparking floods that claimed at least six lives. Italian Civil Protection authorities said that 200 millimetres of rain fell in a three-hour period, from the coastal city of Livorno to the inland valley of Mugello, and caused riverbanks to overflow. Flooding also extended into parts of southern Austria. One person was killed by the storm in Albania.
Several feet of snow and blizzard conditions accompanied Ciaran’s passage in the Italian and Swiss Alps.
Domingos: A new fast-intensifying storm
Now there’s a new low-pressure system midway between Newfoundland and the United Kingdom, formed along a cold front that exited the United States midweek. It’s already strong, and while it will still be intensifying when it barrels into Britain on the weekend, it won’t be quite as strong as Ciaran.
In addition to the yellow warnings in southern England for rain, yellow and orange warnings are in effect for much of western France for heavy rain and wind. Parts of northern Spain are under red warnings – the highest level because of anticipated high winds and rough seas.
Later Saturday and into Sunday, the heaviest rain will shift to along the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea in the upslope terrain of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece.
A rare dance between Ciaran and Domingos
On Friday, the remnants of Ciaran were drifting north through the North Sea. Picture a whirlpool in a pond beginning to weaken – that’s essentially what Ciaran was doing as its air pressure deficit began to rise or “fill in”.
Council workers attempt to retrieve a memorial bench from the ground where two mature trees stood before storm Ciaran in Falmouth, Cornwall, England.Credit: Getty
As it continues meandering north, Domingos will sweep in from the west over the southern UK Eventually, Ciaran will pinwheel back north-westward and ultimately westwards. The two systems will orbit a common centre for a time, as if dancing a tango around one another. Meteorologists call this elegant waltz the “Fujiwhara effect”. It is most commonly observed with tropical weather systems.
It has been a very stormy fall in western Europe. Domingos and Ciaran followed Storm Babet, which was blamed for five deaths in Britain and Germany from October 18 to 21. Babet brought “exceptional” amounts of rain and severe flooding in eastern Scotland, the Met Office wrote in a summary of the storm. Before Babet, Agnes lashed Ireland and the UK in late September.
The Washington Post