There’s been talk of some quite wild weather to come on Saturday night this weekend into early Sunday morning. We’re going to discuss this, what the latest model runs show and the probabilities of where max. gusts are likely.

Synoptic setup

To start this off, this is the expected setup for Saturday evening. A deep area of low pressure with a central minimum pressure of around 960 to 965mb will approach near the northwest of the UK with a westerly flow of air. The exact distribution of this low will determine where the max. gusts will occur and the speeds at which they should take place.

This is a setup that is not out of the ordinary at all but it will likely bring the windiest weather to the country since the early part of February.

Analysis of models

The latest run from the GFS model shows the max. gusts being well offshore from Northern Ireland during midnight on Sunday 3rd March but relatively close to the northwest of Scotland with speeds between 50 to 60 mph here. Much of Scotland under max gust speeds ranging between 30 to 40 mph which will be a relatively moderate to strong breeze. Not overly windy elsewhere over the UK with rather moderate speeds in nature. The GFS is probably the least impactful scenario out of the models from this low.

The ECM model chart below shows the wind gusts in km/h rather than mph (70 mph = 113 km/h). The model shows the max gusts much further south than the GFS shows with max gusts reaching 50 mph or more over Northern Ireland and the vast majority of Scotland with up to 80 mph near the Western Isles. There would be some high seas involved with these gusts and some travel disruption likely. This is a far more impactful scenario than what the GFS above shows indicating some uncertainty here. However, the max. gusts over most of England and Wales are similar to that of the GFS away from northern England.

The ARPEGE model shows the max gusts further south again than the GFS or ECM with highest gusts over Northern Ireland during the early part of Saturday night with speeds gusting to 50 to 60 mph, up to 70 mph on exposed coasts. In comparison to the ECM, northern and northwestern Scotland is actually benign on the ARPEGE. Northern England and parts of Wales have stronger gusts here than on the other tow models too with gusts between 40 to 50 mph. Travel disruption and some coastal flooding especially near Northern Ireland would be more than likely.

Similar to the ECM, the ICON model chart is measured in km/h rather than mph below. The scenario is very similar too with the strongest gusts out to the west of Scotland and offshore, peaking early Sunday morning with gusts between 60 to 70 mph. Northern Ireland recording gusts between 40 to 60 mph whilst England and Wales looking rather calm in comparison.

Verdict

Multiple models showing different solutions and placement of where the maximum gusts from this area of low pressure is likely. This creates great uncertainty and headaches for forecasters. Our current thoughts are that maximum gusts will range between 40 to 60 mph over Scotland and Northern Ireland – calmest conditions over to the east of Scotland. Potential stronger gusts on exposed coasts.

England & Wales are likely to have moderate winds with gusts up to 30 to 35 mph at most away from northern England where there could be gusts in excess of 40 mph by early Sunday morning – possibly stronger if the ARPEGE scenario were to verify.

We feel that the wind gusts associated with this low will be warranted of a yellow status warning for most of the north though possibly amber in the west of Scotland and Northern Ireland. If an amber warning were to be issued hypothetically speaking, there would be the possibility of this becoming Storm Freya, the next named storm. However, this right now is unlikely we think. Keep a look out for warnings that the UK Met Office may release. Any damage from these wind gusts is likely to be minor but still a chance nevertheless of some travel disruption or high seas and coastal flooding.

Sean Bruen is a forecaster for Metcast (and Snow Watch). His main interests are historical and long range weather. He LOVES snow (his Twitter account is @SnowbieWx, go figure!) and his favourite season is Winter.