More stormy weather and flooding?

October has been a very unsettled month and computer models are indicating that the start of November will bring even more severe weather to much of United Kingdom.
Jet stream forecast chart
Jet stream forecast chart
28th October 2023

Over the next few days a strengthening jet stream over the North Atlantic will help to deepen areas of low pressure as they move towards the United Kingdom. They bring the likelihood of very wet and windy or even stormy periods of weather.

The forecast details are still uncertain and will remain so for a while yet. However, most computer models are showing very strong winds affecting large parts of the United Kingdom on Wednesday and Thursday, with southern and western counties possibly bearing the brunt.

The stormy conditions will be accompanied by very heavy outbreaks of rain and, with ground already saturated, the risk of further flooding is high. The area of low pressure could become the third named storm of the season, in which case it will be called Storm Ciarán.

Intense Atlantic storm

The exact track and intensity of the low pressure area will determine which parts of the United Kingdom are hit the hardest. A difference of only 100 to 200 miles in the track can significantly impact the weather conditions experienced in different areas. Therefore, keep up to date with the short range forecasts through the coming days. The discussion below is based on data from Saturday, 28th October and much could still change.

The forecast chart below is from the ECM computer model and it is valid for 12:00 GMT, Thursday 2nd November. It shows an intense area of low pressure tracking across Northern Ireland and northern Britain, with the strongest winds on its southern flank. If this is how things develop, much of the densely populated southeast could avoid the strongest winds.

ECM forecast chart
ECM 00Z storm track

The UKM global model chart below at first glance looks very similar to the one above. However, the area of low pressure is centred ever so slightly further south, leading to very strong and potentially disruptive winds in much of southern and central Britain.

UKM Global forecast chart
UKM 00Z storm track

The Canadian global computer model shows a very similar picture to the UKM Global. The area of low pressure is taking a similar track, although it is fractionally less intense. Nonetheless, it would bring stormy conditions to much of the south, with disruption expected to be an issue.

GEM forecast chart
GEM 00Z storm track

Maximum wind speeds

At this stage the strongest winds look likely during Wednesday night and Thursday. Different computer models are showing significantly different maximum gusts, as is to be expected when looking this far ahead.

The GFS model is showing wind gusts of between 45mph to 65mph inland and 60mph to 70mph over the English Channel.

GFS wind gust forecast chart
GFS wind gust forecast chart

The UKM Global model shows similar maximum wind speeds in the English Channel, but it has an area of higher speed gusts moving northwards over inland areas of England and Wales during Thursday. Values of between 60mph to 70mph wouldn't be that unusual in the north west of the UK, but in the densely populated south they would be more problematic and disruptive. Also, gusts of over 80mph are shown in the Bristol Channel.

UKM Global wind gust forecast chart
UKM Global wind gust forecast chart

Therefore, guidance from computer models is suggesting that stormy weather may well lead to damage and disruption during the first few days of November. Another consideration is that most trees are still carrying a lot of leaves and that will make them more vulnerable than they would be in the winter months.

It's also worth highlighting that some of the ensemble runs are pointing towards even more damaging winds. An ensemble weather forecast presents a range of possible outcomes to help account for uncertainty. Although most of the outcomes are similar to the ones discussed and are therefore more likely, a few are showing gusts of close to 90mph in parts of the south. 

Flood risk increases again

As well as strong winds, heavy outbreaks of rain will be a hazard. The ground is already saturated in much of the United Kingdom, so the risk of further flooding is high. Most regions are likely to have a lot of rain in the coming days, but it is notable that some of the highest totals are expected to be in southern England, an area of the country which often escapes the wettest conditions.

GFS forecast rain totals
GFS rain totals forecast

Another storm to follow?

Once the storm moves away a short drier and calmer interlude is likely. However, that may not be the end of the story. Some computer models are suggesting that another deep area of low pressure will push in from the Atlantic next weekend. It would bring the likelihood of another very wet and windy period, leading to further flooding and disruption. Also, it could result in many fireworks displays being cancelled on Saturday, 4th November.

Any signs of calmer weather?

In the longer term, there are indications of the weather becoming a little bit less stormy, but the changeable or unsettled theme is likely to continue into the second week of November. Temperatures will probably not be a big factor, although at this time of the year they are trending downwards and in quieter spells the risk of frost would start to increase.

News and information




Short range
Short to medium range
Medium to long range

See the Model inventory for the full list of model charts and data