1903 Ulysses Storm among windiest ever in British Isles


By Paul Homewood

h/t Euan Mearns

This is a very interesting read:

A mighty storm that tore across Ireland and the UK more than a century ago produced some of the strongest winds the British Isles have ever witnessed.

Scientists reviewed Storm Ulysses of 1903 by digitising paper-based weather readings from the time and subjecting them to a modern reanalysis.

Many places would have felt gusts in excess of 45m/s (100mph or 87 knots).

The cyclone left a trail of death, shipwrecks, smashed infrastructure, uprooted trees and widespread flooding.

“We think it is likely that the winds were stronger in some locations than anything in the modern period 1950-2015,” explained Prof Ed Hawkins from the University of Reading and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science.

“The precise values are a bit uncertain as the reanalysis does not produce gust values at the surface but they would have been pretty high to cause the damage we see in photos from the time – on a par with big storms in 1990, 1997, 1998 and the Great Storm of 1987,” he told the BBC.

Storm Ulysses is so called because it inspired a passage in James Joyce’s famous novel Ulysses.

The windstorm blasted through the British Isles over 26 and 27 February. Its track ran across Ireland, northern England and Scotland.

The Times newspaper recounted widespread damage, a sizeable number of injuries, and fatalities.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) reported 10 significant crew rescues from distressed ships. A pier in Morecambe was damaged, and a train in Cumbria was blown over.

Ulysses’ ferocity was well recognised at the time. But by reanalysing the raw weather observations from 1903, using the very latest modern numerical modelling techniques like those that produce today’s daily forecasts, researchers have now obtained a new, more detailed appreciation of the event

Read the full story here.

What is particularly interesting is how this new reanalysis compares with what was reported at the time:


It is now believed that many places experienced gusts of over 100 mph, which is well above anything actually recorded at the time. As we find with hurricanes, anemometers in the past were often not in the places where gusts are highest. Whereas as now we have a host of automatic monitors in the most exposed places.

Storm Ulysses shows why it is difficult to make direct comparisons with storms in the past.

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Tom Abbott
April 25, 2023 2:37 am

From the article: “Scientists reviewed Storm Ulysses of 1903”

Named because of a James Joyce novel. Interesting.

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom Abbott
April 25, 2023 4:16 am

They could have called it Storm As You Like It

Paul Hurley
Reply to  Tom Abbott
April 25, 2023 6:05 am

I tried reading James Joyce’s Ulysses. I gave up after reading about one-third of it. Nonetheless, I think it was a Herculean effort on my part.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
April 25, 2023 6:54 am

Apparently Ulysses novel was named after the storm, which was even more severe in Ireland.
How bad Ulysses storm I don’t know, but I experienced Great storm/hurricane of 1987 (as it happen I did see Michael Fish’s ‘forecast’ in the previous evening) in number of ways, initially when my conservatory roof was smashed by a branch broken of pine tree some 50 yards away then I drove to work, not being able to exist my street in usual direction and through half blocked streets of SW London with all kinds of debries making couple of detours.
It was Friday morning, but some of American readers may remember the next couple of days when Does Jones collapsed about huge 500 points which heralded financial crisis. On Thursday there was significant fall on DJ, so when London market many London City stuff didn’t make it to their desks, that gave me chance to get lot of ‘put’ options on number of overpriced stock, which proved to be very profitable gamble 2-3 weeks later. Money later was invested in ensuing property crash. That was last time I gambled on the stock market derivatives.


Peta of Newark
April 25, 2023 3:30 am

It’s all garbage innit:
Quote:”train in Cumbria was blown over.

Cumbria didn’t exist then. It wasn’t even a ‘twinkle’

The hapless choo choo may have been in either Cumberland, Westmorland or North Lancashire

Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 25, 2023 4:15 am

You can still get Cumberland sausages, you know….

Reply to  strativarius
April 25, 2023 5:07 am

As, no doubt, Ange could tell you.

Reply to  Ian_e
April 25, 2023 5:11 am

As could my sister

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 25, 2023 6:05 am

Brits of the Greta Generation have got no idea about the historic counties of the UK

April 25, 2023 4:08 am

The thing about mainstream climate ‘science’ is it is utterly confused.

“humans have caused all the global warming since 1950

Global warming attribution studies consistently find humans are responsible for all global warming over the past six decades.”

How can one of the strongest storms on record be possible without this human global warming?

“Global warming is causing more extreme storms
We’re already feeling changes in extreme precipitation”

Are we? Where did all this ‘extreme’ precipitation go?

“Driest February in England since 1993 signals drought ahead, say experts”
With little rain forecast for spring and reservoirs still not refilled, drought could be worse than last year

The real climate challenge – for myself, at least – is getting through the investiture of the new parliamentary ornament and avoiding it completely.

Reply to  strativarius
April 25, 2023 12:54 pm

That’s a bit rough. Won’t you be compensated with some “Coronation Quiche”?

April 25, 2023 5:06 am

‘Storm Ulysses shows why it is difficult to make direct comparisons with storms in the past’

So true; but don’t worry, the BBC will always be there to explain why things are worse now than ever before!

Reply to  Ian_e
April 25, 2023 5:13 am

the BBC will always be there”

And for the [current] bargain price of £159 – or a fine, or even jail.

Bill Parsons
April 25, 2023 3:40 pm

“Extreme” and seemingly contradictory weather conditions are the norm, not the exception.

Drought and Flood in 1936

The worst flood on record on the Potomac occured in March, 1936 with water levels 40 feet above normal. The Palmer Drought monitor registers the extreme summer drought across the Midwest that occured five months later.


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