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    On 16 September 1961, an extremely powerful wind storm swept across Ireland, killing 18 people and causing widespread damage. In two new articles in the Royal Meteorological Society’s journal Weather, authors Eddy Graham (University of the Highlands and Islands, Stornoway) and David Smart (UCL Hazard Centre, University College London) take a fresh look at the events on that fateful day, with the benefit of new previously undiscovered weather observations.

    Hurricane Debbie, as it has always been known, was in fact not a true tropical hurricane at its time of landfall over Ireland. However, given the unprecedented ferocity of the storm, and uncertainty over when it acquired extratropical characteristics, the designation of ‘hurricane’ was felt entirely appropriate at the time. Were it to occur today, it would be called ‘Storm Debbie’.

    Debbie is now confirmed to have been an extremely severe extratropical wind storm and new data uncovered shows that a new Irish mean wind speed record of 76 knots (87 mph, 141 kph, or a comfortable Hurricane Force 12 on the Beaufort Scale) may have been set at Malin Head meteorological station in County Donegal. To put this into context, a gale is defined mean wind speed of 34-40 knots, averaged over a period of ten minutes. Terms such as 'severe gale', 'storm', etc are used to describe winds of 41 knots or greater.

    Period16 Sept 2021

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