A sting jet is a meteorological phenomenon which has been postulated to cause some of the most damaging winds in Extratropical cyclones, developing according to the Shapiro-Keyser model of oceanic cyclones.
Following reanalysis of the Great Storm of 1987, led by Professor Keith Browning at the University of Reading, researchers identified a mesoscale flow where the most damaging winds were shown to be emanating from the evaporating tip of the hooked cloud head on the southern flank of the cyclone. This cloud, hooked like a scorpion's tail, gives the wind region its name the "Sting Jet".
It is thought that a zone of strong winds, originating from within the mid-tropospheric cloud head of an explosively deepening depression, are enhanced further as the "jet" descends, drying out and evaporating a clear path through snow and ice particles. The evaporative cooling leading to the air within the jet becoming denser, leading to an acceleration of the downward flow towards the tip of the cloud head when it begins to hook around the cyclone centre. Windspeeds in excess of 80 kn (150 km/h) can be associated with the Sting jet.
It has since been reproduced in high-resolution runs with the mesoscale version of the Unified Model. The Sting jet is distinct from the usual strong-wind region associated with the warm conveyor belt and main cold front. There are indications that conditional symmetric instability also plays a role in its formation but the importance of these processes remains to be quantified.
The sting jet mechanism has been considered less significant in Pacific Northwest windstorms which occur over the Pacific Ocean (which impact the Northwestern United States and British Columbia). Evidence of mesoscale high wind areas has not been noted in most large windstorms occurring there, along with cloud geometry associated with the phenomena being absent in satellite imagery of major Pacific Northwest storms. High resolution computer models of the phenomena have also shown realistically strong winds without the need for sting jet dynamics.
List of extratropical cyclones displaying sting jet phenomena
|Great Storm of 1987||European windstorm||October 15-17, 1987||||Southern England|
|Oratia||European windstorm||October 30, 2000||||unknown|
|Anna||European windstorm||February 26, 2002||||Central Pennines, England|
|Jeanette||European windstorm||October 27, 2002||||Wales and the English Midlands|
|Erwin||European windstorm||January 2005||||Northern England|
List of extratropical cyclones proposed or under investigation as displaying sting jet phenomena
|October 2010 North American storm complex||Great Lakes cyclone||October 26–27, 2010||||Midwest USA|
|2011 Halloween nor'easter||Nor'easter||October 30–31, 2011||||Northeastern USA|
|Friedhelm||European windstorm||December 8, 2011||||Central Belt Scotland|
|Ulli||European windstorm||January 3–4, 2012||||Central Belt Scotland|
|Unnamed||Extratropical cyclone||March 12, 2012||||Upper Midwest USA|
|Christian||European windstorm||October 28, 2013||||Possibly developing over East Anglia then over the North Sea, skirting the Netherlands coast to Germany/Denmark.|
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