The United Kingdom is living up to its gloomy stereotype today as it feels the effects of a powerful cyclone sweeping across the northern Atlantic Ocean. The photogenic storm brought heavy snow to Ireland and Scotland, heavy rain to England and Wales, and winds of 75 MPH to the region's western coasts.
The storm underwent bombogenesis yesterday, which is a term that sounds made up for hype, but it's a real process that occurs when the central minimum pressure of an extratropical cyclone deepens by at least 24 millibars over a 24-hour period. The cyclone is nearing its peak strength this evening, with the GFS model forecasting the storm to reach its deepest (943 millibars) by 06:00 UTC on Thursday (1:00 AM EST).
Wintertime extratropical cyclones in this region of the world often "bomb out," so to speak, thanks to their favorable location near the polar jet stream; as such, the United Kingdom is often on the losing end of the foul weather produced by these systems.
Precipitation along and ahead of the storm's fronts is ruining many a day in the Isles, with a heavy, driving rain in the south and a heavy, driving snow in Scotland and elsewhere along higher elevations. Photos posted to Twitter appear to show almost a foot of snow in some locations, including this lucky spot in Northern Ireland:
Need to brave this day sooner or later. pic.twitter.com/MkrrlfVhQs
— Kevin@Deer Friends (@kevinharkin3) January 14, 2015
Adding insult to injury, the cyclone's tight pressure gradient is allowing for very strong winds to crash ashore on the western coasts of the islands. The latest statement from the Met Office indicates that forecasters expect winds of up to 75 MPH along "exposed southern and western coasts," especially in England and Wales.
Surprisingly, according to FlightStats, London's Heathrow Airport reports only nominal delays and a handful of cancellations this evening, even though the airport has a stiff crosswind on its east-west oriented runways.
[Images: UW-Madison, WeatherBELL, Met Office]