How are storms named – and what is the meaning behind ‘Storm Barra’?


Storm Barra is currently sweeping across the UK with gale-force winds. It is the second large storm in recent weeks and people have been left wondering how storms get their names

Huge waves crashing into the seafront in Dawlish, Devon
Huge waves crashing into the seafront in Dawlish, Devon

Storm Barra has caused brought gale-force winds to the UK once again and weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office.

Some homes in Northern Ireland have been left without power and a couple in Lancashire were left terrified when a tree toppled on to their house this morning.

The storm comes only a week after Storm Arwen caused untold damage in the east of Scotland.

Storm Barra is not expected to be as bad as Storm Arwen, which left three people dead and thousands without power, but snow has been reported.

With two severe storms so close together and each with unusual names, many have been left wondering where the storms get their names from. So where did Storm Barra get its name?

What is the meaning behind the Storm Barra name?

Storm Barra was named by Met Éireann


Met Office)

This particular stormed was named by Irish weather forecaster Met Éireann.

The storm follows on alphabetically from Storm Arwen and each letter alternates between a female, then male name.

Storm Arwen is believed to be a name of Welsh Celtic origin meaning “fair” or “good” and is most commonly used for women.

It is believed that the anglicised version of Barra is “Barry”, which is suspected to mean “fair-headed” or “spear”.

Storms are named when they have the potential to cause damage through an amber or red warning. Once they become dangerous, it is important for the authorities to be able to communicate clearly to the population about the dangers of the storm, so they can protect themselves.

How are storms named, and who names them?

Storm Barra hitting New Brighton, Merseyside


Getty Images)

British, Irish and Dutch weather services group together to name storms and the final decision is taken by weather officials.

The public does have some say, though, and more than 10,000 names were submitted for consideration.

The letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are also avoided to fit in with international convention on this matter. It means that anyone who submitted a suggestion based on a hope that a storm would be named after their uncle Quentin will be left disappointed.

The list of this year’s names has already been revealed.

They are:

  • Arwen

  • bar

  • Corrie

  • Dudley

  • Eunice

  • Franklin

  • Gladys

  • Herman

  • Faith

  • Jack

  • Kim

  • Logan

  • Maeve

  • Nasim

  • Olwen

  • Half

  • Ruby

  • Seán

  • Tineke

  • Vergil

  • Willemien

What is a weather bomb?

Storm Barra has been described as a ‘weather bomb’



Storm Barra has been described as a “weather bomb”. A weather bomb is officially called an “explosive cyclogenesis”, which sounds just as frightening.

Met Éireann forecaster Aoife Kealy told the Irish Times : “The low pressure weather system gets caught up in the jet stream, the movement of air high up in the atmosphere. That suction of air reduces the weight and causes the atmospheric pressure to fall at sea level.

“When the pressure falls at sea level like that, the system starts to suck in all the air around it which makes the air spin faster. It’s like an ice skater who, when they draw their arms in, spins faster and faster,” she explained.

“Not every system develops like that which is why we are seeing this system give very strong winds.”

How long will Storm Barra last?

Waves crashing into the seafront in Selsey, West Sussex



The Met Office has explained how long they believe that Storm Barra will last.

The storm will move slowly through the country on Tuesday and begin to settle on Wednesday morning. A yellow wind warning is in place until 12am on Wednesday.

Deputy Chief Meteorologist, Brent Walker said to the Manchester Evening News : “A band of rain will turn to snow across northern England and Scotland through Tuesday.”

“Two to five cm of snow is expected to accumulate quite widely across the warning area, but locally this could reach ten cm, particularly in parts of the Southern Uplands and Highlands.”

He added: “Strong south-easterly winds will also lead to snow drifting in places, particularly over the highest routes, adding to poor visibilities”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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