The Great St.Stephens Day Storm of 1998

The Great St.Stephens Day Storm of 1998

The Great St.Stephens Day Storm of 1998

A vicious storm struck the Ireland and the Uk on December 26th 1998 causing widespread damage to infrastructure across northern parts of Ireland and Scotland. The run up to Christmas 1998 had been unsettled with Christmas day itself being mild, wet and breezy. The storm named ‘Stephen’ developed quickly in the Atlantic on Christmas day before it tracked rapidly northeast on the morning of the 26th.

By noon on Boxing Day (celebrated as St Stephen’s Day in Ireland) the storm was positioned just to the northwest of Ireland and just twelve hours later had tracked to the northeast of Scotland. The storm was undergoing rapid cyclogenesis as it raced eastwards north of Ireland with surface pressure falls of 19hPa in just 3 hours recorded in north-western Ireland, which is the highest rate of pressure fall to be recorded in the area in over 50 years. The estimated minimum central pressure of the storm was 947hPa.

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The storm brought exceptionally high winds to northern parts of Ireland and Scotland. Winds gusted widely above 70mph across all of Ireland, while extreme winds along the southern flank of the storm delivered a 110mph gust to Malin Head in County Donegal. The gust of 110mph was just 3mph below its all-time wind gust record which was set in 1961. Malin Head recorded sustained hurricane force winds as the storm peaked around 7pm. The impact of the storm was soon felt in southern Scotland with a gust to 103mph recorded at Prestwick Airport, South Ayrshire in south-west Scotland.

The storm resulted in millions of pounds of damage and at one point during the storm over two million people across the affected region were left without power. Thousands of customers were left without power for weeks, ruining many people’s festive celebrations.

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Summery of the storm

• Estimated peak minimum central pressure: 946.7hPa
• Highest wind gust: Malin Head, County Donegal, 96 knots (110mph) recorded at 1914GMT.
• Highest sustained 10 minute wind speed: Malin Head, County Donegal, 67 knots (77mph).
• Power disruption: 2 million homes affected


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