An analysis of observed daily maximum wind gusts in the UK

Richard Hewston, Stephen R. Dorling

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The greatest attention to the UK wind climatology has focused upon mean windspeeds, despite a knowledge of gust speeds being essential to a variety of users. This paper goes some way to redressing this imbalance by analysing observed daily maximum gust speeds from a 43-station network over the period 1980–2005. Complementing these data are dynamically downscaled reanalysis data, generated using the PRECIS Regional Climate Modelling system, for the period 1959–2001. Inter-annual variations in both the observed and downscaled reanalysis gust speeds are presented, with a statistically significant (at the 95% confidence interval) 5% increase across the network in daily maximum gust speeds between 1959 and the early 1990s, followed by an apparent decrease. The benefit of incorporating dynamically downscaled reanalysis data is revealed by the fact that the decrease in gust speeds since 1993 may be placed in the context of a very slight increase displayed over the longer 1959–2001 period. Furthermore, the severity of individual windstorm events is considered, with high profile recent events placed into the context of the long term record. A daily cycle is identified from the station observations in the timing of the daily maximum gust speeds, with an afternoon peak occurring between 12:00–15:00, exhibiting spatial and intra-annual variations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-856
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Wind Engineering & Industrial Aerodynamics
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2011

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