Storm names keep communications clear for public safety
1st September 2023: Met Éireann, along with the national weather services of the UK (Met Office) and the Netherlands (KNMI), has released the list of new storm names for the 2023/2024 storm season, which starts on Friday 1st September.
Storms are named when they could cause ‘medium’ or ‘high’ impacts in one of the three partner countries. This enables consistent, authoritative messaging to support the public to prepare for, and stay safe during potentially severe weather events.
Each of the three meteorological services contributed seven names to this season’s list. Met Éireann chose names of eminent Irish/Northern-Irish scientists, to honour their important contributions to science and benefits for humankind.
The full 2023/24 list is Agnes, Babet, Ciarán, Debi, Elin, Fergus, Gerrit, Henk, Isha, Jocelyn, Kathleen, Lilian, Minnie, Nicholas, Olga, Piet, Regina, Stuart, Tamiko, Vincent and Walid (the names chosen by Met Éireann and the scientists they honour are in the table below. The letters Q, U, X, Y, Z are not included, which is in line with the US National Hurricane Centre naming convention).
When a storm is forecast the national weather service that expects the biggest impact from the severe weather to hit its region names the storm. Storm naming happens in conjunction with orange/red weather warnings, which could be for wind, rain or snow or a combination of these conditions. Those warnings are issued based on a combination of numerical criteria and the potential impacts foreseen.
Eoin Sherlock, Head of Forecasting Division in Met Éireann, emphasised:
“Storm naming is an important asset in our warnings arsenal and makes severe weather communications clearer and more effective. It connects our weather services more closely to the public, helping us in our mission to protect lives and property and ensuring the safety of our communities.
We are delighted to celebrate science and scientists in this year’s names. As part of our process we asked the public to choose the name for letter “A”, resulting in Agnes, after Irish astronomer and science writer Agnes Mary Clerke. Our warmest thanks to all who voted and to those who suggested other names that we will keep in mind for future seasons.
As we move in to storm season, we advise people to prepare now for possible severe weather events. We echo public safety advice to “Be Winter Ready”. You can find the latest forecasts and warnings in met.ie and Met Éireann’s app.”
The letter “J” this year is named by Met Éireann after Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the brilliant astrophysicist who discovered the first pulsating radio stars (or pulsars) in 1967. She has led a distinguished career in research and teaching, with an emphasis on empowering women in physics.
Reacting to the announcement of the new storm names list, Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell said: “I am delighted to feature in this distinguished list celebrating science and hope that if a potential “Storm Jocelyn” happens, it may be a useful stirring-up rather than a destructive event! Science advancements increase our knowledge and understanding of the world around us, and I think this is wonderful example of science-based services communications.”
Since 2015, Met Éireann and the UK Met Office have been working together on the naming programme and were joined by the Netherlands’ KMNI in 2019.
UK Met Office Head of Situational Awareness Will Lang said: “This is the ninth year of us naming storms and we do it because it works. Naming storms helps to ease communication of severe weather and provides clarity when people could be impacted by the weather. This year, it’s great to be able to recognise the collaborative efforts of some of our partners across the UK with the inclusion of names from some UK partner organisations. Working across different agencies allows us to help as many people as possible be prepared for severe weather.”
KNMI Senior Forecaster and Team Manager Jos Diepeveen mentioned: “Naming the storms helps to raise awareness when severe and extreme weather is approaching. Through recognizable names, we hope to reach as many people as possible with our warning before the weather strikes. For this year’s KNMI input, we have asked visitors during our open day last October for suggestions. Visitor Babet filled in her own name: ‘Because I was born during a storm’.”
Other National Meteorological Service groups in the US and Europe also name storms. When any National Met Service names a weather system, all others keep that name. This includes ex-hurricanes named by the US National Hurricane Center such as Charley (25th August 1986) and Ophelia (16th October 2017), which had major impacts in Ireland when they crossed the Atlantic.
Met Éireann’s Warning Services – what you need to know
- Weather warnings issued by Met Éireann are based on a combination on numerical criteria for wind, rain, temperature, etc. and the potential impacts of the foreseen hazardous conditions. · Met Éireann’s app and website (https://www.met.ie/warnings/today) have a 3-day tab map displaying all warnings, which could be issued up to three days ahead. This allows clearer communication and understanding of the complex weather scenarios which can affect Ireland, especially in winter.
- The Met Éireann app provides an option to subscribe to receive push notifications of weather warnings for a chosen county, selected counties or all counties.
- Met Éireann also offers a subscription for weather warnings emails, via https://www.met.ie/warnings/login
- The ‘warnings’ page on met.ie and the app also features warnings for Northern Ireland, whenever they are issued by UK Met Office. This provides a clear, authoritative one-stop shop for easy and reliable access to the latest weather warnings for the island of Ireland.
- Warning explanations can be found here: https://www.met.ie/weather-warnings
Impacts of storms/severe weather
- The timing and location of extreme weather occurrences can significantly affect the impact it may have on society and/or the economy.
- In any individual weather event, not every location within a warning area may experience the same degree of weather or impacts.
- When severe weather is expected, weather and impacts at lower levels are also likely to be experienced. The type and amount of impacts can be strongly affected by previous weather conditions. Met Éireann takes into consideration the forecasted conditions and thresholds as well as previous weather conditions that may increase the level of impact expected for particular areas when issuing a warning.
Storm season 2023/24 – Scientists names
|Storm Names 2023/24
|Agnes Mary Clerke: Irish astronomer and science writer. Her best-known work, “A Popular History of Astronomy during the Nineteenth Century” was published in 1885.
|Fergus O’Rourke: scientist who contributed to myrmecology and medical entomology. Provided an authoritative description of Irish ants and an early consideration of the importance of ants as disease vectors.
|Jocelyn Bell Burnell: Northern Ireland astrophysicist, who discovered the first pulsating radio stars, or pulsars in 1967.
|Kathleen ‘Kay’ McNulty Mauchly Antonelli: one of the mothers of computer programming.
Kathleen Lonsdale: Irish crystallographer, demonstrated the crystal structure of benzene.
|Lilian Bland: Anglo-Irish journalist and pioneer aviator, the first woman in Ireland to build and fly an aircraft, and quite possibly the world’s first woman to build her own airplane, the Bland Mayfly.
|Nicholas Callan: physicist, invented the induction coil that was used in early telegraphy and is still being used in some electronic devices today.
|Vincent Barry: organic chemistry, best known for leading the team which developed the anti-leprosy drug clofazimine.
There are plenty of other Irish scientists’ worth remembering who haven’t been included in this year list, as there is a maximum number of names assigned per Met Service. Met Éireann respects, honours and is grateful for all Irish contributions to science and technology.
Past Storm Seasons overview
- Last season 2022/23 (ended on 31st August 2023) there were four named storms. The Western Europe Group (Met Éireann, Met Office and KNMI), named two storms (Antoni and Betty). DMI named storm Otto and Météo France named storm Noa.
- This is half the average number of named storms observed since the storm naming initiative began in September 2015. On average there has been eight named storms in a season.
- Four named storms, in a season, is the lowest number of named storms since the project began. The greatest number of named storms occurred in the 2015/16 and 2017/18 seasons, each with eleven named storms.
- This past season 2022/23, Storm Force 10 wind speeds were observed during named storm Noa on Wednesday 12 April 2023 at Sherkin Island, Co Cork.
- There have been no Violent Storm Force wind speeds observed at a Met Éireann wind station since Storm Eunice on Friday 18 February 2022.
- No hurricane strength sustained/mean winds at any Met Éireann wind station have been observed since the project began. Storm Ellen in August 2020 came very close to observing winds of this strength, with 111 km/h at Roches Point, Co Cork. The last hurricane force winds affecting Ireland was Darwin on Wednesday 12 February 2014. Hurricane force winds have been observed at coastal western stations, mainly in January (half the time), twice in December and once in February, March and September.
- For more information on storm names and past storms, see Storm Centre and Major Weather Events
Stay informed under severe weather conditions – Get the latest forecast:
- For the most accurate and up to date forecast for your area on the Island of Ireland go to www.met.ie.
- Warnings – For the latest weather advisories and warnings for Ireland go to: https://www.met.ie/warnings/today.
- These services and much more are available on our free Met Éireann app – available from the App store for iPhone and from Play Store for Android.
- Connect with Met Éireann on Twitter , Instagram and Facebook for extra weather and climate content.
- Listen to the latest national forecast on our daily podcast (updated three times a day, also on Twitter).
Be Winter Ready: Be Prepared, Stay Safe and know where to find help should you need it
During quiet autumn weather it is prudent to prepare for possible winter storms and severe weather. For advice see www.winterready.ie
Met Éireann digital channels analytics during severe weather
There is heightened awareness of weather warnings through social media as well as through traditional Radio and TV. This awareness has been catapulted into the public arena by the colour coding of warnings and this storm naming partnership, fulfilling its main purpose.
Prior to and during a named storm event there is huge engagement with the Met Éireann website and app. Over the last year there were 653k users of the Met Éireann app and it was opened almost 68 million times. The number of hourly forecast lookups for a location, using either the app or the website, are approx. 500k per day.