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England and Wales
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England and Wales

January 20, 2012
The opening weeks of 2012 were tempestuous ones for the United Kingdom, with a major winter storm bringing very strong winds across much of the region on January 3, 2012. According to the Met Office, southern Scotland was the worst affected area, particularly the Central Belt, where winds gusted at well over 70 knots (81 mph). In this area, the storm was considered the most severe for 13 years.

On that same day, very strong winds also blew across much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with gusts reported at 50-60 knots (58 to 69 miles per hour) in many parts of the country. The howling winds blocked roads and rail lines, and damaged power lines. Flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports were cancelled, ferry services were delayed and rail services were suspended in hardest-hit areas. More than 100,000 Scottish homes and businesses lost power. After that storm passed damaging wind continued across northern and eastern England on January 4 and 5, with winds again gusting near 60 knots (70 miles per hour).

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) captured this true-color image on January 16, 2012, eleven days after the heavy winds began to subside. England (in the south)and most of Scotland ( to the north) can be clearly viewed between parted clouds, while Scotland’s Northern Highlands and Outer Hebrides remain shrouded in clouds, as does Ireland, to the west. Popcorn stratocumulus clouds are seen to the east, while a large bank of clouds to the west shows evidence of more turbulent conditions, with wave streets and ship-wave-shaped cloud patterns. There appears to be some low clouds or possibly fog over the land, particularly in southern Scotland.

The turbid waters around England are clouded with sediment, which appears dark tan near the coastline and lightens in color, even to a milky, swirling green, as the sediment spreads into the North Sea, the Irish Channel and English Channel. This is likely the result of stirring of the waters by the heavy winds, as well as substantial runoff from the accompanying rain. In the English Channel, to the south of England and north of France, greenish-tan streaks can be seen running parallel to the shore. These are likely ship wakes, caused where the vessel has disturbed muddy waters.

Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC


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