Storm Eunice: What is a sting jet?

storm eunice

Storm Eunice is set to cause disruption across the United Kingdom on Friday. - Credit: Nick Butcher

As Storm Eunice begins to cause disruption across the country, experts have warned the sting jet could be similar to the Great Storm of 1987. 

With 90mph winds forecasted in parts of the UK, the Met Office said the phenomenon could cause “significant damage and risk to life”.

Here is what you need to know about sting jets.

What is a sting jet?

A sting jet is named due to the resemblance to the sting in a scorpion’s tail, with the Met Office describing how the weather phenomenon can be spotted as it develops on satellite image.

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.

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How does a sting jet form?

A sting jet forms when weather fronts separate areas of warm and cold air and this interaction creates and develops wet and windy weather.

There are more focused streams of warm and cold air close to the weather fronts, known as conveyor belts – with the warm conveyor rising and the cold conveyor falling.

The Met Office said these “wrap around the area of low pressure and help develop it by feeding warm air and moisture into the system”.

How can the Met Office forecast a sting jet?

Although a sting jet is said to be difficult to forecast due to the relatively small size and the way each low pressure system develops, it is possible to spot a sting jet developing on satellite images.

This is because at the end of the cold conveyor is marked by a hook-shaped cloud with a point at the end. 

The sting jet often looks like the sting in a scorpion's tail, hence the name sting jet. 

Types of satellite images show the amount of water vapour which is made up of light and dark shades there is. 

When have they happened in the past?

According to the Met Office, the Great Storm of 87' had average wind speeds of up to 86mph but gusts were much higher than expected with an estimated 15m trees brought down by the conditions.

The last time the UK had a storm that had winds over 80mph was Storm Dennis in February 2020 at 81mph.