Storm Ciara

From late Saturday 8 February through to 9 February 2020, the most intense European Windstorm of the season so far, Storm Ciara, brought damaging winds and persistent heavy bands of rain to much of the United Kingdom. The Met Office issued amber and yellow warnings for rain and strong winds, while the Environment Agency issued more than 200 flood warnings across England. Some areas experienced a month and a half’s worth of rainfall within just 24 hours and wind gusts of up to 90 miles per hour were recorded.

Record-breaking rainfall was experienced at multiple locations:

  • Honister Pass in Cumbria recorded the highest rainfall totals in the UK (178mm in 24 hours) (Met Office, 2020).
  • An unverified reading of 86mm in 12 hours in Huddersfield indicates that the intensity of the rainfall and river levels in the Calder Valley were close to the records set on Boxing Day 2015 (Examiner Live, 2020).
  • At Hebden Bridge the Calder reached 3.35m compared to the Boxing Day 2015 level of 3.63m (Environment Agency, 2020).

More than 500 properties are estimated to have been flooded, including 260 in Yorkshire, 150 in Greater Manchester, 100 in Lancashire and 40 in Cumbria (BBC, 2020). Yorkshire, particularly the Calder Valley, Lancashire and Cumbria were most significantly impacted by flooding.

Properties, businesses and schools were flooded in Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Todmorden, Halifax and Sowerby Bridge. Further flooding was experienced in Bingley, Haworth, Masham, Ilkley and Pateley Bridge. The Cumbrian town of Appleby-in-Westmorland was also severely hit. The River Irwell burst its banks at Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, while areas including Blackpool, Whalley, Longton and Rossendale were affected by flooding in Lancashire.

Nearly 539,000 households across the UK experienced loss of power at some point on Sunday and there was widespread disruption to travel including flights, ferries and trains.

JBA’s Flood Foresight system has been monitoring Storm Ciara and produced forecast and real-time flood depth footprints for the event.

Flood Foresight indicated the potential for flooding across large parts of northern England. Figure 1 indicates the areas projected to be at risk to flood on 10 February, forecasted on 09 February.

Figure 1: Projected flood areas for 10 February, forecasted on 09 February (T+1d).

The extent and depth of flooding was captured accurately in real-time in many locations including both Sowerby Bridge and Appleby-in-Westmorland.

In the coming days the active weather is forecast to continue, with storms being driven in from the Atlantic on a strong Atlantic jet stream. Areas already experiencing high river levels and saturated ground will remain at risk to flooding.

JBA’s Event Response team has produced a flood footprint estimating extents and depths of the flooding for areas affected. If you would like to receive the footprint or alerts from our Flood Foresight system, please speak to our team.

References

BBC. 2020. Storm Ciara: Man dies as tree falls on car in Hampshire. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-51441770 [Accessed 10 Feb 2020]

Environment Agency. 2020. River level, River Calder at Hebden Bridge. Available at: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/station/8097 [Accessed 10 Feb 2020]

Examiner Live. 2020. Huddersfield hit by most rainfall ever over 24 hours and 75mph winds as Storm Ciara causes chaos. Available at: https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/huddersfield-hit-most-rainfall-ever-17717474 [Accessed 10 Feb 2020]

Met Office. 2020. Available at: https://twitter.com/metoffice/status/1226587193059270657 [Accessed 10 Feb 2020]

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