Powerful autumn storm St. Jude (dubbed Christian in Germany) swept across England and the North Sea Sunday and Monday, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Especially hard hit were England, Northern France, Holland and the North German coast.
The storm claimed 14 lives in Europe.
Particularly hard hit was the north German port city of Hamburg, which saw wind gusts of up to 120 km/hr. That in itself is not an unusual event for the city, as North Sea storms of this magnitude occur about every 5 or 10 years. What was unusual and devastating, however, was how the city waited until the storm was raging over the city at peak fury before issuing any storm warning at all. Hamburg is governed by a coalition of socialists and environmental greens.
Meteorologist Dominik Jung of wetternet.de here writes that even though Storm Christian had been forecast for days, Hamburg city officials remained deeply asleep and did not wake up to issue any storm warning until 2:26 pm Monday afternoon. By that time the storm was already raging at its peak and the city had plunged into chaos. See wind speed chart below.
Wind speed measured at a weather station near Hamburg. Green curve – wind gusts. Blue curve – wind speed. Source: wetter24.de/html
How Hamburg officials failed to issue a storm warning is a mystery and shows that the city’s early warning system was nothing less than a debacle.
It’s not like the storm came without ample warning. A day earlier England was being battered by the storm. Hours before hitting Germany, western neighbor Holland had seen record wind speeds and France had saw widespread power outages. Jung at wetternet.de writes:
In England it was the most powerful storm in over 10 years. At the coast of Holland it was even the most violent hurricane ever observed in an October month. On the Dutch islands wind gusts of 152 km/hr were recorded. In France more than 75,000 homes lost power.”
Moreover, wetternet.de had already warned of a developing storm last week on Wednesday, read here.
Now a day later, some German meteorologists are scratching their heads over the inaction and are lashing out at the ineptitude of Hamburg officials. Jung writes that the inaction was “amazing and unacceptable“:
It wasn’t until 2:26 pm that a storm warning was issued for the Hansa City (Hamburg). At that point the storm was already going at full blast. At 2:25 pm the fire department had already declared a state of emergency.
The storm could be seen coming already days earlier. At the latest on Monday morning, when the damage and wind speeds in England and France were already known, should a storm warning have been issued in order to warn the public, police, fire and rescue services. Why a storm warning was issued only when Hamburg found itself in the middle of chaos is completely incomprehensible. […] Even stranger: The storm warning issued at 2:26 was for the time period of 3:30 pm to 8 p.m.”
According to Jung at wetternet.de, the storm produced wind gusts of close to 200 km/hr. at the North Sea islands. At Helgoland gusts of 190 km/h were measured – a record value for the island!
Yesterday afternoon as I was driving I noticed toppled trees, small branches littering the streets everywhere, and truckers struggling to keep their rigs under control. I remember thinking it was quite a fall storm, and wondered why the media was being low key about it. Now I know the answer: incompetent officials!
Ironically, these socialist and green party officials are the very ones who like to go on TV and tell viewers how terrible it is when cities like New Orleans and New York are hit by hurricanes and how US officials are too incompetent to cope with storms.
Well, after witnessing Hamburg yesterday, US officials who handled Sandy look like first class experts by comparison.
Expect the hapless Hamburg officials to react by blaming “climate change” for the storm’s “unexpected intensity”.