Gale Index 1871-2019

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Sep 6, 2019, 10:24:59 AM9/6/19
to Weather and Climate

There's not much in the way of stats to work out just how stormy a winter has been. 

I've put these bar charts together with the help of data from the objective LWT series which includes a gale index for each day at 12 UTC, this means that it will miss some gales, and it also for a  central fixed point.

The graphs highlight the stormy winter of 2013-14, which lies just behind that of 1989-90 as the stormiest winter on record.


Since the winter of 2013-14 winters have gradually become less stormy and the gale index has now returned close to average.

I wonder if this decline will continue this Winter?

Graham Easterling

Sep 6, 2019, 12:05:07 PM9/6/19
to Weather and Climate
I'm very surprised at the number of gales. A F8 is a rare event inland. Looking at Lambs 'English Climate' a fair chunk of central & eastern England averages <2 gales a year.. Most coasts are 10-20 days a year range . The only places to exceed 30 in England /Wales / Scotland being Lands End & the Lizard point, the tip of Pembroke, the end of the LLeyn peninsula and the Outer Hebrides, and few coasts exceed 20. Are we talking about the terrible gale force gust, which of course isn't a gale?

There's been a fairly dramatic fall to very low levels along much of  the Atlantic seaboard.

Taking Penzance, wich is sheltered, so many of the gales are marginal - it bears little relation to the gale frequencies on nearby cliff tops. It does mean a small drop in windiness is reflected by a large drop in the number of gales

1993 13
1994 14
1995 13
1996 16
1997 14
1998 22
1999 15
2000 17
2001   5
2002 15
2003   9
2004 12
2005   7
2006   4
2007 11
2008   1
2009   4
2010   2
2011   2
2012   2
2013   2
2014   7
2015   2
2016   3
2017   3
2018   3

This led to an interesting youtube video, when a chap went out on the Sennen lifeboat to discuss climate change. He clearly expected Terry (the coxswain) to say how stormy it's got. Instead Terry commented on the lack of gales this century, and how it had extended the fishing seasons for the Cove's fleet of small boats. The MetO were asked about his comments at the end. For this topic the interesting bit starts 3 minutes in 

I did think that the fall might be down to the depressions taking a more northerly course, but a check revealed low gale frequencies in recent years right up the Atlantic seaboard to Orkney. So perhaps the depressions are getting stuck in mid Atlantic more.

Certainly, most hyped gales here are complete non events in reality. Mind you March 2008 exceeded all expectations, the worst conditions on the north coast of West Cornwall this century.

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