Cyclone Ulli

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For the tropical cyclone, see Cyclone Ului.
Cyclone Ulli
Ulli January 3 2012.png
Ulli situated to the north-east of Scotland
Type Extratropical cyclone, Ice storm, Winter storm
Formed December 31, 2011
Dissipated January 7, 2012[1]
Lowest pressure 952 millibars (28.1 inHg)
Highest gust 107 mph (172 km/h) in IJmuiden, Netherlands[2]
Damage $306 million (2012 USD)[3]
Fatalities 2 total, 1 missing
Areas affected Eastern Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, Scotland

Cyclone Ulli[4] (also named Emil by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute[5]) was an intense and deadly European windstorm. Forming on December 31, 2011 off the coast of New Jersey, Ulli began a rapid strengthening phase on January 2 as it sped across the Atlantic.[6][7] In the late hours of January 1, Met Éireann issued a national severe weather warning for Connacht and Ulster and forecasters predicting winds speeds up to 87 mph with heavy driving rain. On January 2, the Met Office issued an amber weather warning for most of Scotland for heavy snow and strong winds.[8] Forecasters predicted wind speeds up to 80 mph, and heavy rain, leading to localized flooding.[9] Temperatures were expected to plummet from a record high of 12 °C (54 °F) recorded in southern England on New Year's Eve to 5 °C (41 °F).[10] During the late hours of January 2, the European Storm Forecast Experiment (ESTOFEX) issued a Level Two warning for southeast England, the Netherlands, north Belgium, north Germany and Denmark. Ulli was the costliest disaster in January 2012 globally.[11] The damage from the storm in Glasgow was also compared to a storm in 1968.[12]

Ulli was one of many storms to affect Europe during the winter of 2011–2012. The storm clustering began in late-November when Xaver and Yoda hit the United Kingdom and Norway. In early to mid-December, Friedhelm, Hergen and Joachim hit northern Europe. Another storm, Patrick hit Scandinavia on Christmas Day.[13] Ulli was followed by Andrea which formed the next day and struck northern Europe on 5 January.[14]

Meteorological history[edit]

Weather map on January 3rd, 2012

The system was first noted over the United States Midwest as a surface trough.[15] The storm moved offshore on December 31, 2011, when it was named Ulli by the Free University of Berlin.[4] The low deepened slightly to 1,000 mb (30 inHg) by January 1, 2012 while south of Nova Scotia.[16][17] By January 2, the storm system was located just east of Newfoundland.[7][18] From 1800 UTC January 2 to 0000 UTC January 3, the barometric pressure of Ulli plummeted from 983 mb (29.0 inHg) to 970 mb (29 inHg). By midnight on January 3, Ulli was situated to the northwest of Scotland.[19] The storm then made landfall on Scotland during the early morning the same day with a central pressure of 952 mb (28.1 inHg).[7][20] Hours later, the storm was named Emil by the Norwegian Weather Service.[5] By January 4, the storm was centered over southern Norway and it slowly moved across to Finland the next day.[7][21][22] Ulli began to rapidly weaken as it stalled on January 6, and was absorbed by Windstorm Andrea on January 7.[1] The storm has been proposed as displaying a Sting jet.[23]


All low pressure areas that effect Europe are named by the Free University of Berlin.[24] On some occasions, storms that effect Norway are named by the Norwegian Weather Service.[25] The Free University of Berlin have six lists of names which they use each year. Every odd year they use male names, while every even year they use female names.[24]


United Kingdom and Ireland[edit]

Containers blown down at Greenock Ocean Terminal in the wake of Ulli.

Prior to the passage of Ulli, many parts of the UK saw heavy squally downpours on January 2.[26] On January 3, the Kingston, Erskine, Tay and Forth bridges were closed due to high winds. Major travel disruption which resulted in many bus, rail and ferry services being withdrawn.[7][8][27] Winds gusted to 102 mph (164 km/h) in Edinburgh and 105 mph (169 km/h) in Malin Head. Wind gusts were higher in Great Dun Fell in the North Pennines, where winds gusted to 106 mph (171 km/h).[7][28][29] The storm hit Scotland during a public holiday[30] which helped reduced the amount of people travelling about. A man was killed in Kent after an oak tree fell on his car, while another man was killed after being injured on board a tanker in the English Channel.[27][31] A man was later reported missing in Scotland.[32]

Ten-thousand people were left without power in Northern Ireland due to the storm.[29] While in Scotland approximately 140,000 homes were left without power, by 5 January the number had dropped to around 10,000.[33] During the course of the storm over 488 weather-related incidents where reported in Strathclyde area, with 170 being reported in the Lothians, and Fife having more than a 100 reports.[34] Ayr racecourse abandoned its meeting for the day.[26]

A tornado, which uprooted trees and damaged roofs, touched down in Hainault, London later in the day.[35][36] Another tornado was reported about 30 minutes later in Clacton-on-Sea.[37] Epsom Downs Racecourse was evacuated after sustaining partial damage to the roof of the grandstand.[38][39] Over 90 severe wind gust reports were submitted to the European Severe Weather Database.[40] Torrential downpours affected parts of southern England and into France.[41] The Met Office were also criticized because of the late upgrade from amber to red warnings in the Central Belt.[42] The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) also issued 10 flood warnings and 12 flood alerts for Scotland.[43][44]

Netherlands and Germany[edit]

The Dutch Coastguard reported a meteotsunami at IJmuiden on January 3 with sea level rising and falling 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in just 30 minutes as the storm passed.[23] In Germany on January 3, a storm warning was issued for the North Sea coast and higher altitudes.[45] Trucks were blown over by 100 km/h (62 mph) winds in North Rhine-Westphalia. In the same area, one family had their roof blown off their house.[46] Coastal regions were also battered by large waves with ferry passengers having to walk through flood water to disembark. An infant in a pram was also blown into a canal by strong winds near Hannover. His mother dived in to save him and both survived.[46]

Denmark and Sweden[edit]

Ulli was the strongest storm in Denmark in seven years.[47] Winds from the storm began to affect Jutland on the afternoon of January 3. In Skagen a 300 square metre roof of a fish processing factory was blown off.[48] A ferry broke loose in the storm requiring two tugs to secure it,[49] and ferry links between Denmark and Norway were cancelled. In Aalborg high winds brought down a gable wall of a student block at Construction College,[50] toppled scaffolding,[51] and brought down a five-story glazed aluminium staircase.[52] The storm continued across the Kattegat to affect the Swedish west coast with power outages, blocked roads and cancellation of train services.[53]


Forecasters began to predict another storm that would make its way across the North Sea in the coming days, which had already named Andrea.[54][55] Winds were expected to reach 140 km/h (87 mph) on Wednesday night into Thursday in Germany.[56] German meteorologists said that the new storm looked more toxic than Ulli.[57] They also said that Andrea was stronger than Ulli, however, the storm was weaker than Kyrill.[58] The Met Office issued yellow warnings for wind and rain for parts of England and Wales.[7]

Due to the unstable post-frontal environment, SkyWarn UK issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Scotland, Wales and the east coast of England for January 4 and January 5.[59] Since dawn on January 4, hundreds of engineers were trying to restore power to over 50,000 homes in the UK.[60]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "January 7, 2012 surface analysis". Free University of Berlin. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut". KNMI. 
  3. ^ "January 2012 Global Catastrophe Recap" (PDF). Aon Benfield. p. 5. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "2011 Low pressure names". Free University of Berlin. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Nina Berglund (3 January 2012). "New hurricane warnings posted". Views and News from Norway. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "January 1, 2012 00z surface analysis". Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. NOAA. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Guest (4 January 2012). "Northwest Europe Battered by Windstorm Ulli". Live Insurance News (Boston, Massachusetts). Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Forecasters give Highland blizzard warning". BBC News. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Blizzards, 80mph gales and floods set to hit Scots going back to work". Scottish Daily Record. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  10. ^ Sanchez Manning (2 January 2012). "STORM TO END BALMY START TO THE NEW YEAR". Express. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  11. ^ Jeff Masters (16 February 2012). "January 2012 the globe's 19th warmest". Weather Underground. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "The 1960s were stormy times too". Evening Times. 14 January 2012.  (Accessed through LexisNexis)
  13. ^ "Windstorm Ulli is Latest to Batter Northwest Europe; AIR Analysis". Insurance Journal. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  14. ^ Francesca Nyman (9 January 2012). "Clustering seen as Windstorm Andrea follows hot on Ulli's heels". Insurance Insight. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "December 29, 2011 15z surface analysis". Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. NOAA. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "January 1, 2012 surface analysis". Free University of Berlin. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "January 1, 2012 12z surface analysis". Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. NOAA. 
  18. ^ "January 2, 2012 surface analysis". Free University of Berlin. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "January 3, 2012 surface analysis". Free University of Berlin. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  20. ^ "Met Office Shipping Forecast". Met Office. Exeter, United Kingdom. Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "January 4, 2012 surface analysis". Free University of Berlin. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  22. ^ "January 5, 2012 surface analysis". Free University of Berlin. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  23. ^ a b "Sting jet signature associated with a high wind event in Scotland (storm Ulli, 3 January 2012)". Eumetsat. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  24. ^ a b "History of Naming Weather Systems". Free University of Berlin. Berlin, Germany. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  25. ^ "Norske ekstremvær får navn". Meteorlogisk Insitutt. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Chris Parsons; Gareth Finighan; Luke Salkeld (4 January 2012). "The day it was so windy the waterfall ran uphill: Britain battered by 106 mph (171 km/h) gales which leave two dead - and there's more to come in the next 24 hours". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  27. ^ a b "Severe weather causes damage around UK". BBC. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  28. ^ "Strong Winds Torment Much Of Britain". NPR. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  29. ^ a b "Storms cut power to 10,000 homes". AP. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Two Dead As Gale Force Storms Batter The UK". Sky. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  32. ^ Jody Harrison (13 January 2012). "Family's plea after father goes missing during storm". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  33. ^ "Big cleanup: Work begins to restore power after storm batters Scotland". STV. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  34. ^ John Ferguson (4 January 2012). "Storm-hit families tell of their terror as 100mph winds bring tower block roof hurtling down on their homes". Daily Record. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  35. ^ "‘Hainault tornado was ferocious’, says eyewitness". London24. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  36. ^ Tom Dickens (3 January 2012). "Bus stop smashed to the ground by ‘Hainault tornado’". Ilford Recorder. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  37. ^ "Freak winds lash Clacton, damaging buildings". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  38. ^ J A McGrath (3 January 2012). "Epsom evacuated after high winds damage grandstand". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  39. ^ Wood, Greg (3 January 2012). "Epsom racecourse evacuated after high winds damage grandstand roof". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  40. ^ "European Severe Weather Database". European Severe Storms Laboratory. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  41. ^ "One killed, thousands without power supply after storm sweeps Britain". Xinhua News. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  42. ^ "Forecasters scrambled to update advice as conditions worsened". The Herald Scotland. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  43. ^ "Windstorm Ulli". RMS. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  44. ^ "Scotland counting cost of storms". BBC. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  45. ^ "Sturm fegt über Norddeutschland hinweg". AFP. 3 January. Retrieved 3 January 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  46. ^ a b "Germany ravaged by New Year's storms". The Local. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  47. ^ "Emil toppede i Hanstholm" (in Danish). Nordjyske. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  48. ^ "Tag blæst af fiskeindustri" (in Danish). Nordjyske. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  49. ^ "Færge rev sig løs i stormen" (in Danish). Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  50. ^ "Gavl ødelagt på skolehjem i Aalborg" (in Danish). Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  51. ^ "Storm væltede stor endegavl og stillads" (in Danish). Nordjyske. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  52. ^ "Fem etager trappeopgang styrtet ned" (in Danish). Nordjyske. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  53. ^ "Elavbrott, blockerade vägar och tågstopp" (in Swedish). Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  54. ^ "Orkanböen sorgen für Schäden in NRW". RP. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  55. ^ "2012 Low pressure names". Free University of Berlin. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  56. ^ "Hohenstein-Ernstthal: Sturmtief Ulli fegt Lkw-Anhänger von der Straße". Freie Presse. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  57. ^ "Sturmtiefs kommen Schlag auf Schlag". 3 January 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  58. ^ "Orkanwarnung: "Andrea" rast auf Deutschland zu". Hamburger Abendblatt. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  59. ^ "Severe Thunderstorm Warning #003". SkyWarn UK. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  60. ^ Martin, Wainwright (4 January 2012). "Stormy weather set to return as damage from gales is cleared up". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 4 January 2012. 

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