Most Read: Local

Posted at 02:46 PM ET, 12/08/2011

Violent storm strikes Scotland

Satellite image of massive storm striking northern Britain (UK Met Office)
Winds of hurricane force lashed northern Britain today, prompting widespread school and bridge closures, toppling high profile vehicles, and triggering tens of thousands of power outages. Isolated structural damage was also reported. In Scotland, officals warned motorists to stay off the roads and air travel was disrupted.

At Cairngorm Summit (elevation 4,100 feet) in Scotland, a gust of 165 mph was clocked (just shy of its record of 173 mph in 1986), equivalent to levels in a major hurricane.

This incredible gust came less than a week after a gust of 150 mph tore across the summit Mammoth Mountain in central California. The National Weather Service described the Southwest U.S. windstorm as the worst in 10 years.

Not to be outdone, the UK Daily Mail said the storm battering northern Britain was the worst in 15 years:

The winds were so strong that a 100 metre tall wind turbine spectacularly caught fire at Ardrossan in North Ayrshire, while pilots landing at Scottish airports had to battle to get their planes down safely in the treacherous conditions.

Schoolchildren dodge the waves created by storm force winds at Cardswell Bay, Gourock, in western Scotland on December 8, 2011, as a winter storm rolls in. Scotland closed schools and travellers were warned to expect disruption on key routes on December 8 due to gale-force winds, as Britain's first major winter storm of the season swept in. (GRAHAM STUART - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
The worst of the storm slammed central and southern Scotland where a red alert, the UK Met Office’s most severe weather warning, was issued. It cautioned:

... there is a significant risk of damage to trees and structures. The police are also advising that conditions for travel will be extremely poor and that travellers are likely to experience significant delays.

In Scotland, peak wind gusts reached 105 mph in Inverness, 91 mph in Tiree, 71 mph in Glasgow, 68 mph in Aberdeen and 68 mph in Edinburgh. Ireland’s Malin Head gusted to 80 mph. Gusts in England reached 107 mph at Grun Dun Fell and 67 mph in Manchester according to the Daily Mail. In London, gusts to 55 mph were forecast.

In addition to the punishing winds in central Scotland, a news feed from the BBC also described extensive flooding.

Weather map as of this morning showing storm impacting northern Britain. (NOAA)
The powerful storm’s minimum pressure was around 950 mb, comparable to that of a category 3 hurricane. Centered just north of the British isles, the weather map to the right shows the tightly packed lines of equal pressure bunched across northern Britain. The large pressure difference over such a small area and counter clockwise circulation from the low pressure center combined to drive the raging winds from the west across much of Scotland.

As of this evening local time, the UK Met Office said winds were easing in western Scotland but still very strong further east, especially in northeast Scotland. Snow was expected over Scotland’s “highest ground” and England’s northwest hills.

Via YouTube: A trampoline is sent flying during Scotland’s violent windstorm: “Oh my God, trampoline!”

By  |  02:46 PM ET, 12/08/2011

Categories:  Latest, International Weather

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company