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What is a sting jet?

The famous Great Storm cut a swathe of damage across Southeast 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?

Low pressure areas have well understood causes and are well represented by our weather forecast models. However, they can sometimes produce exceptionally strong winds. 

Experience has shown that he most damaging winds occur in a very small region, perhaps only 50 km across. This tends to be 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.

4 facts about sting jets

  • 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 evaporates and cools it as it descends, helping to accelerate it to high speeds.
  • It can accelerate to more than 100 mph.


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