Saturday, 25 February 2017

Three confirmed fatalities as Atlantic Storm Doris sweeps across UK.

Parts of the UK are clearing up after Atlantic Storm Doris swept across the nation on Thursday 23 February 2017, bringing with it winds gusting as high as 140 kilometres per hour. The storm brought down trees, damaged power supplies and tore up fences across the country, causing a series of traffic accidents and widespread disruption to transport networks. Many people were left without power in Northern Ireland, Wales and England, flights were cancelled from airports and the Port of Liverpool was forced to close for part of the day.

Waves breaking over Newhaven Lighthouse on the south coast of England during Atlantic Storm Doris. Glyn Kirk/AFP.

At least three people have died during the storm, all of them in England. At the time of writing only one of these has been identified; 29-year-old Tahnie Martin of Stafford, who worked at the Department of English at the University of Wolverhampton, was killed by falling debris as she walked through the middle of Wolverhampton with colleagues. West Midlands Police are investigating the incident, and have not ruled out braining a criminal prosecution against the building's owners. 

Tahnie Martin of the University of Wolverhampton, who was killed by falling debris on 23 February 2017. SWNS.

In Swindon in Wiltshire, a 32-year-old woman was killed when the wind blew her into traffic, and a man in his 50s was killed in London when the high-sided vehicle he was driving was blown into a lamppost. In Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire a woman in her sixties is being treated for serious injuries after a carport collapsed on her, while in Milton Keynes a schoolgirl was injured after part of the roof of the school's gym collapsed while she was inside.

Vehicles damaged by a falling wall in Liverpool. Liverpool Echo.

In Wales the Storm caused part of the historic Colwyn Bay Pier to collapse, while the modern Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, Kent, was also damaged. The storm has also caused damage across parts of continental Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, Belgium, northern Germany and Poland.

Ocean storms form due to heating of air over the sea in tropical zones. As the air is heated the the air pressure drops and the air rises, causing new air to rush in from outside the forming storm zone. If this zone is sufficiently large, then it will be influenced by the Coriolis Effect, which loosely speaking means the winds closer to the equator will be faster than those further away, causing the storm to rotate, clockwise in the northern hemisphere and anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere.

Whilst the high winds associated these storms is extremely dangerous, the real danger from such storms is often the flooding. Each millibar drop in air pressure can lead to a 1 cm rise in sea level, and large storms can be accompanied by storm surges several meters high. This tends to be accompanied by high levels of rainfall, caused by water picked up by the storm while still at sea, which can lead to flooding, swollen rivers and landslides; which occur when waterlogged soils on hill slopes lose their cohesion and slump downwards, over whatever happens to be in their path.

See also...

http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/lightning-kills-323-reindeer-in.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/atlantic-storm-desmond-causes-three.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/18-500-without-power-after-atlantic.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/hurricane-niklas-kills-two-in-uk-and-at.html
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/at-least-six-dead-as-storms-batter.htmlhttp://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/at-least-six-dead-as-atlantic-storm.html
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