365 days without a named storm: So where did they all go?

Stormy seas in Selsey
Stormy seas in Selsey Credit: @CoastalJJ

Notable by their absence...

It's been a remarkable 12 months in the weather world. We've had everything from droughts to flooding and who could forget the extreme heat over the summer? But something that remains notable by its absence is any sort of named storm.

In fact, the last named UK storm was Franklin, hitting the British Isles almost a year ago now on 20th February 2022, hot on the heels of Storm Dudley and Storm Eunice.

Storm Eunice, Hill Head Credit: Innes Marlow

Is there a particular reason for this?

The world of weather is full of surprises but there are a few things that could have kept the storms at bay so far:

  • The UK has spent a fair bit of autumn and winter sitting to the south of the jet stream with high pressure systems blocking the path of any particularly stormy weather.

  • La Niña - a naturally occurring cooling of the sea surface temperatures over the Pacific - is in effect and is thought to lead to calmer, colder starts to winter here in the UK.

  • For a storm to be named it needs to meet certain criteria combining any impacts of severe weather with the likelihood of those impacts occurring. While we've had spells of both wet and windy weather this season, the criteria for storm naming haven't been met...yet.

Storm damage, Basingstoke Credit: Heather Hutchinson

Why do we name storms?

The Met Office, in partnership with Met Éireann and KNMI, started the storm naming project back in 2015 to raise awareness of incoming storms in the wake of a particularly tempestuous couple of years.

The storm season starts on September 1 each year to coincide with autumn and winter, typically our most turbulent seasons. Since then, the earliest storm of any season occurred back in 2017 when Aileen hit the UK on 12th September. Yet here we are, already well into February and we've yet to see any sign of Antoni.

Will we see a named storm this season? And if so, when?

The forecast for the next couple of weeks indicates a gradual shift from the current cold, settled conditions to a more changeable pattern of weather moving in from the west, but so far no sign of anything particularly stormy.

Since we started naming storms we've averaged around seven a year. Cast your mind back to 2020 and you may remember both Ellen and Francis swept through in the space of a week during the second half of August so we're not out of the woods yet. Watch this space...