The 1987 Great Storm - What is a Sting Jet?
The famous Great Storm cut a swathe of damage across South-east England in the early hours of the 16th October 1987. It was a good example of a storm with a Sting Jet. But what is a Sting Jet?
What is the Sting Jet?
Low pressure areas:
- Have well understood causes.
- Sometimes produce very strong winds.
- Are generally well represented by our weather forecast models.
Experience has shown that:
- The most damaging winds occur in a very small region, perhaps only 50 km across.
- This is close to the 'tail' of the 'head' of cloud that wraps around the low pressure centre.
- Hence the 'sting in the tail' of the cyclone.
We now know that:
- The 'sting in the tail' is produced by a distinct jet of air- the Sting Jet.
- It starts out three or four kilometres above the ground and descends over three or four hours.
- Snow and rain falling into it evaporate and cool it as it descends, helping to accelerate it to high speeds.
- It can accelerate to more than 100 mph.
You can find out much more detail in our
Sting Jet Explainer
(PDF, 1 MB)
Last updated: 12 October 2012