Sting jets in severe Northern European windstorms

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Meteorology

Abstract

Three extremely strong storms (including those named Lothar and Martin) hit Europe in December 1999 claiming more than 130 lives and causing about 13 billion Euros total economic losses. These storms were each associated with violent gusts exceeding 78 knots. Significant property damage occurred, vast areas of forest were destroyed and transport and power outages lasted for days. The storm surge associated with Martin led to flooding along several parts of the Atlantic coast. While larger-scale aspects of these storms are generally forecast with reasonable skill, the occurrence, location, and severity of the local regions of major wind damage are not. A broad region of moderately strong winds is found in the warm sector of the storm for most of its lifecycle. Some, but not all, storms have a second localised region of strong winds, and especially strong gusts, which may be short lived (a few hours) but especially damaging. This has been termed a 'sting jet' and its structure has only recently been identified by numerical model simulations of an intense storm. The term 'sting jet' has captured media attention (e.g. the Telegraph newspaper, BBC radio 4, 2003 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition). However, it is remarkable that at present this research is based on detailed analysis of only a single storm and we do not know the characteristics of storms that exhibit sting jets. Sting jets are also not represented in the climate models used to predict changes to storminess under future climate scenarios. We propose to determine the mechanisms that lead to sting jets, develop diagnostics that can be used to predict the development and presence of a sting jet in a given storm, determine the climatology of these storms in the current climate and consider the possible changes to these storms under further climate scenarios. This will be achieved through analysis of high-resolution case study and idealised numerical model forecasts. The socio-economic implications of these severe storms means that the findings will be of relevance to users with the responsibility for mitigation of and response to the impacts of these events (e.g., DEFRA, the Environment Agency, utilities providers such as power companies).

Publications

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Baker L (2014) Idealised simulations of sting-jet cyclones Idealised Simulations of Sting-Jet Cyclones in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

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Clark P (2018) Sting jets in extratropical cyclones: a review in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

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Gray S (2011) Conditional symmetric instability in sting-jet storms in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

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Martínez-Alvarado O (2012) Sting jets in intense winter North-Atlantic windstorms in Environmental Research Letters

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Martínez-Alvarado O (2010) Sting Jets in Simulations of a Real Cyclone by Two Mesoscale Models in Monthly Weather Review

 
Description We developed a method for identifying midlatitude storms that are likely to produce sting jets in coarse resolution models that do not have high enough resolution to represent sting jet features.
Exploitation Route This work led to a further (AXA research fund) funded research grant as well as sting jet related research carried out under the NERC-funded DIAMET (Diabatic influences on mesoscale structures in extratropical storms) project.
Sectors Environment

 
Description The work from this project formed part of a REF 2014 impact study submitted by the Department of Meteorology at the Univ. of Reading. In collaboration with the Met Office, the researchers funded by this grant and other researchers from the Dept. of Meteorology at the Univ. of Reading other developed ways to identify sting jets in current and imminent weather and, later, methods to forecast these extremely damaging events up to a several days in advance. These techniques are now used in the UK National Severe Weather Warning Service (NSWWS) and in European storm forecasts. Since the development of this new early warning capability, events have been too few to compile proper statistics; however, there is general agreement amongst the emergency services, local government officials and insurers that the improved warnings of extreme winds have saved lives, minimised disruption and generated considerable cost savings.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Sting jet windstorms in current and future climates
Amount £251,851 (GBP)
Organisation AXA 
Department AXA Research Fund
Sector Private
Country France
Start 03/2012 
End 09/2017
 
Title Sting jet storm diagnosis 
Description We have developed a diagnostic tool to assess the likelihood of a forecast storm producing sting jets. This tool can be applied to global weather forecasts or climate model projections that lack sufficient resolution to represent sting jet features. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This tool is being used in an assessment of sting jet storm prevalence in current and future climates. 
 
Description A regional climatology of sting jets and the cyclones in which they occur 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk at the University of Exeter/Met Office RACEWIN storms workshop held at the Met Office,

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Conditional symmetric instability and the development of sting jets 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral presentation at the 8th annual meeting of the European Meteorological Society and the 7th European conference on applied climatology (2008), Amsterdam.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Idealised simulations of sting jet cyclones 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation poster presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation at the European Geosciences Union general assembly (2012), Vienna.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Identification of sting jet extratropical cyclones in ERA-Interim 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral presentation at the European Geosciences Union general assembly (2010) Vienna.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Sting jets in climatological datasets 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk at the 5th European conference on severe storms, ECSS 2009 in Landshut, Germany.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Sting jets in extreme windstorms 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation in Willie Re Global Client Meeting

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Sting jets in intense winter North Atlantic cyclones 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk to AIR-worldwide in London.

Presentation on work done in this project and through an associated MSc dissertation project supervised by Suzanne Gray and Laura Baker to industry link for the MSc project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Sting jets in intense winter North Atlantic cyclones 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk at the 2nd European Windstorms Workshop, University of Leeds

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Sting jets in intense winter North Atlantic windstorms 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation at the Lloyd's Science of Risk Prize conference.

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Sting jets in severe Northern European windstorms 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Invited seminar at the Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne

Collaborations developed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description The role of conditional symmetric instability in sting jet storms 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation poster presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation at the European Geosciences Union general assembly in 2009, Vienna.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009