Burns' Day Storm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Burns' Day Storm
Burns' Day Storm/Daria 11:30UTC 25 January 1990
TypeEuropean windstorm, extratropical, extratropical storm surge
Formed23 January 1990[1]
Dissipated26 January 1990
Lowest pressure949 hPa (28.0 inHg)[1]
Highest winds
  • mean hourly wind 64 kn (119 km/h; 74 mph), Sheerness, Kent
Highest gust93 kn (172 km/h; 107 mph), Aberporth, Wales and Gwennap Head, Cornwall
Casualties47 UK,[2] 17 Netherlands,[3] 12 France,[4]
Areas affectedIreland, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands, West Germany, East Germany, Denmark

The Burns' Day Storm (also known as Cyclone Daria) was an extremely violent windstorm that took place on 25–26 January 1990 over north-western Europe. It is one of the strongest European windstorms on record. This storm has received different names as there is no official list of such events in Europe.[5] Starting on the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns, it caused widespread damage and hurricane-force winds over a wide area. The storm was responsible for 47 deaths (according to the Met Office), although figures have ranged from 89 to over 100 across Europe.[citation needed]

Meteorological history[edit]

The storm began as a cold front over the Northern Atlantic Ocean on 23 January. By the 24th, it had a minimum central pressure of 992 mbar and began to undergo explosive cyclogenesis, sometimes referred to as a weather bomb.[6] It made landfall on the morning of the 25th over Ireland. It then tracked over to Ayrshire in Scotland. The lowest pressure of 949 mbar was estimated near Edinburgh around 16:00. After hitting the United Kingdom, the storm tracked rapidly east towards Denmark, causing major damage and 30 deaths in the Netherlands and Belgium.[1]


The strongest sustained winds recorded were between 70 and 75 mph (110–120 km/h), comparable to a weak Category 1 hurricane or Hurricane-force 12 on the Beaufort Scale. Strong gusts of up to 104 mph (170 km/h;) were reported, and it was these which caused the most extensive damage. The Great Storm of 1987 contained considerably higher wind speeds across every parameter. Both highest recorded sustained wind speeds of 86mph and highest gust of 135mph for example. Sustained periods of high gust speeds were also far higher in 1987. However, during the 1987 Storm many anemometers stopped recording due to power outages, breakages due to excess wind speeds and measurement maxima being exceeded. By 1990 the meteorological community had newer devices that remained independent of external power and could measure higher wind speeds. The general opinion is that wind speeds measured during the Burns Day Storm provide an accurate picture, while there is a tendency to downplay windspeeds from the 1987 storm due to the patchy data available.


The Burns' Day Storm of 1990 has been given as an example of when the Met Office "got the prediction right".[7] The model forecast hinged on observations from two ships in the Atlantic near the developing storm the day before it reached the UK.[8]

During the day of the storm the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) increased warnings to force 11 and eventually to hurricane force 12. Research conducted by them showed that most of the general public were not able to understand the severity of the warnings. The storm has led to more awareness about the understanding of storminess among the public by the KNMI, who started a teletext page and the introduction of special warnings for extreme weather events in reaction to these findings.[9]


Casualties were much higher than those of the Great Storm of 1987, because the storm hit during the daytime. The storm caused extensive damage, with approximately 3 million trees downed, power disrupted to over 500,000 homes and severe flooding in England and West Germany. The storm cost insurers in the UK £3.37 billion, the UK's most expensive weather event to insurers.[10] Most of the deaths were caused by collapsing buildings or falling debris. In one case in Sussex, a class of children was evacuated just minutes before their school building collapsed. Actor Gorden Kaye was also injured during the storm, when a plank of an advertising board was blown through his car's windscreen.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c McCallum, E. (1990). "The Burns' Day Storm, 25 January 1990". Weather. 45 (5): 166–173. Bibcode:1990Wthr...45..166M. doi:10.1002/j.1477-8696.1990.tb05607.x.
  2. ^ "Burns' Day Storm - 25 January 1990" (PDF). Met Office. 15 April 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Zwaarste storm sinds 1990". nos.nl (in Dutch). 28 October 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Daria le 25 janvier 1990 - Tempêtes en France métropolitaine". tempetes.meteo.fr. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Seasonal predictability of European wind storms" (PDF). Institute of Meteorology. Free University of Berlin. 2008. p. 7. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Daria le 25 janvier 1990 - Tempêtes en France métropolitaine". tempetes.meteofrance.fr (in French). Météo-France. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  7. ^ Adams, Tim (21 February 2010). "Met Office forecasts storm warnings over its accuracy". The Observer. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  8. ^ Heming, J.T. (1990). "The impact of surface and radiosonde observations from two Atlantic ships on a numerical weather prediction model forecast for the storm of 25 January 1990". The Meteorological Magazine. 119: 249–259.
  9. ^ "Nader Verklaard Zwaarste storm in decennia". KMNI. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  10. ^ "UK storm payout 'may hit £350m' the storm was really really big". BBC News. 20 February 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2017. High winds that hit the country in the first few weeks of 1990 – costing insurers £3.37bn – remain the most expensive for insurers.
  11. ^ "1990: Children killed in devastating storm". On This Day. BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2017.

External links[edit]