In Brief

How storms get their names

Storm Franklin hits UK with flooding and high winds

Storm Franklin is continuing to batter parts of the UK today with strong winds and heavy rain that has led to flooding in parts of Northern Ireland.

Hundreds of flood warnings have also been issued across England, Scotland and Wales, while “severe disruption” has led Network Rail to advise customers to check before they travel on the country’s railways.

Franklin comes just days after Storm Eunice hit, killing three people and leaving 1.4 million homes without power. “The highest wind gust speeds” this morning “reached 79mph in Capel Curig in Wales, and 78mph in Orlock Head, Northern Ireland”, the BBC said.

Storm Franklin “is the third named storm in a week”, the broadcaster reported, “the first time this has happened since the storm-naming system was introduced in 2015”.

How are storms named?

According to the Met Office, whether a storm is named is based on the guidance of its National Severe Weather Warnings service, which assesses “a combination of both the impact the weather may have, and the likelihood of those impacts occurring.

“A storm will be named when it has the potential to cause an amber or red warning,” the weather service said, with factors including “the impacts of rain and snow” also taken into account alongside the strength of the initial storm.

Once a decision has been made to name the storm, either the Met Office, Met Eireann or KNMI is responsible for deciding on a name. The Met Eireann is Ireland’s meteorological service, while KNMI is the Dutch national weather forecasting service.

To ensure that names are in line with the US National Hurricane Centre naming conventions, neither of these three bodies “include names which begin with the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z”, according to the Met Office. This is done to maintain consistency with “official storm naming in the North Atlantic”.

In 2021 the Met Office requested help from the public naming future storms, and thousands of people sent in suggestions.

Why are storms named?

The reason storms are named is that it serves “to raise awareness when they are likely to have a high or medium impact”, The Sun said. Some research has also suggested that “people will be more aware and wary of a storm if it is referred to by a human name”.

That in turn means that the public “will be more likely to take measures to keep themselves and their property safe if they are told the storm will hit close by”.

“Stormy weather is not unusual in the winter,” said the Met Office, pointing out the period from mid-December 2013 to mid-February 2014, when there were at least 12 major storms.

The UK has “seen comparable or more severe storms in recent years, including 3 January 2012 and 8 December 2011, each of which caused widespread impacts”.

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