The Scottish ‘weather bomb’ shows that maybe British weather isn’t as bad as everybody thinks.
Everybody moans about the British weather and with good reason. It rains a lot. The temperature struggles to crack 25⁰C even at the height of summer.
But as yesterday’s ‘weather bomb’ in Scotland demonstrated, the British Isles suffer from less extreme conditions, less often, than the rest of Europe.
Winds might have hit 144mph on St Kilda but on the mainland, even at the height of the storm, gusts barely merited an amber warning according to the European Meteoalarm service, and even then only in the far northwest Highlands.
The most serious incident was a foreign truck driver who ‘ignored’ signs on the Forth Bridge and came to a halt in a panic.
Meanwhile, the whole of the northern Irish Republic was on amber alert for high winds all day, as were parts of Italy, Greece, Norway and Spain.
Amber alerts are serious business. People can and do die. Meteoalarm categorises them as ‘dangerous’ with ‘damage and casualties likely’. Red is ‘very dangerous’ with ‘major damage and accidents likely… and threat to life and limb’.
The last red alert warning for the UK was for high winds across the north west of England in March.
Red alerts are still relatively rare even on the Continent but most days somewhere is under an amber level warning.
Consider the Ligurian coast in northwest Italy. There was almost continuous amber and red level heavy rain for the whole of November with consequent landslides and major floods.
It was barely much better in the south west of France.
The point is not that Brits have boring weather, or that we should be grateful for the tepid climate, or that we over-react when things do go wrong.
The point is that Brits, maybe lulled into a false sense of security by a lifetime of ‘bad weather’, should be aware that elsewhere in Europe there is often much more to it than continuous drizzle or jumpers in June.