Figures reveal ferocity of Scottish storms

Monday 12th Dec 2011 by theWeather Club

With the Met Office predicting more high winds to hit many parts of the UK this week, spare a thought for those still struggling to recover from the storms that lashed northern parts of the country late last week. The winds brought down trees, closed roads, shut schools and disrupted power in homes across Scotland. Figures just released by the Met Office show just how ferocious the conditions were in parts of Scotland at the peak of the bad weather. Thursday's winter storm was described by one senior fire officer as the worst he'd seen in 20 years of service.

Thursday's peak winds

Peak mountain gust: 165mph Cairngorm Summit

Highest mountain mean speed: 117mph Cairngorm Summit

Highest lower level gust: 105mph Tulloch Bridge

These were the headline figures, but a look at other measurements taken around the country show the scale of the disruption, especially when taking into account that structural damage can begin to occur at wind speeds of 50mph: Fair Isle 92mph, Tiree 91mph, Kirkwall 87mph, Wick airport 84mph, Stornoway airport 81mph, Edinburgh 77mph, Kirkwall 62mph.

BBC weatherman Darren Bett drew attention to these less dramatic but more disruptive measurements saying: "The gust of 165mph made all the headlines, but that was recorded on the top of Cairngorm. Gusts recorded at more populated lower-level stations are more important because they affect more people. So the figure to concentrate on is that at Tulloch Bridge of 105mph, which was more than enough to cause significant damage."

The Met Office says the last storm of such ferocity was actually in January 2005, when a deep depression tracked to the north of Scotland with gusts of up to 106mph at Barra in the Hebrides, leading to widespread disruption. Similarly, Thursday's storm was also caused by a deep low pressure system moving to the northeast of Scotland.

Despite the remarkable wind speeds recorded on Thursday, the UK's wind speed record survived the onslaught. The record stands at a gust of 173mph, set on 20th March 1986. This gust also occured in the Cairngorms, clearly a place designed to test all but the bravest of hearts.