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07/03/17: Electricity North West weather watch - March

Electricity North West weather watch
The weather can have a big impact on the local power network. We work hard to make the network as resilient as possible, but there are some things we can’t control. This was witnessed last month thanks to Storm Doris which hit the North West on the 23rd February bringing 70mph severe gales.

We were fully prepared for the weather and our engineers worked hard to repair the damage and restore power to more than 7,000 customers across the North West as quickly as possible. To read more about how we battled the weather
click here.


Look back: February

The final month of the meteorological winter was fairly quiet weather-wise, with few instances of strong winds until the arrival of ‘Storm Doris’ on the 23rd (as named by the UK Met Office). Temperatures were around 1.7C above the climatological norm. Rainfall was a little above average too, this coming after a drier-than-normal December and January across North West England.

The main story of the month was the arrival of Storm Doris, the fourth named storm of the winter season (by comparison, there had been nine named UK storms by the same stage last winter). The storm developed from a small-scale disturbance several hundred miles west of Ireland and underwent rapid cyclogenesis to become a potent low pressure area by the morning of the 23rd. The system tracked west to east over the Irish Sea and northern England before exiting to the east over the central North Sea.

Interestingly, with the strongest winds being felt along the southern side of the storm, there were large parts of North West that managed to come away unscathed in the relative calm of the ‘eye’. Indeed it was the southern half of Lancashire and Merseyside that bore the brunt of the severe gales in the wider region. Blackpool received a maximum gust of 67mph at around midday, with 74mph recorded further down the coast at Crosby. Heavy and persistent rain affected the region with 24 hour totals of around 20-25mm within this event, with heavy snow for a time on the hills. Just a slight northward shift in the storm track of 20-30 miles would have resulted in significantly more disruption across the region.

Look forward: March

March has started on an unsettled note, with spells of rain crossing the UK at regular intervals. A band of wet weather swept northwards across the North West during the afternoon of Friday 3rd March, following a dry start. This unsettled weather is being generated by a persistent and strong westerly jet stream over the north Atlantic, which is encouraging frequent low pressure development to our west, with these systems then crossing the UK. Further outbreaks of rain and sometimes brisk winds are on the way, with any dry and settled days few and far between. Our analysis does not currently show any threat of a new storm to rival the intensity of ‘Storm Doris’ in the next week or so.

Temperatures will often be on the mild side this week, but a change in wind direction for mid-month with a few northerly outbreaks, as high pressure builds northwards over the near-continent. During this time, there will be the risk of some chilly nights as air is drawn from the east and a few light snow flurries are possible on high ground.

The final week or so of March will see the UK within a battle zone of pressure systems, with Atlantic depressions attempting to make headway over the UK and into Europe. When the depressions are successful, a few spells of wet and windy weather can be expected but these will alternate with drier/calmer interludes as short-lived high pressure areas move overhead. In summary, a typically changeable spring month is expected over the coming weeks.

From Meteorologist Nick Prebble from MeteoGroup @WeatherCast_UK

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