Ireland's storm season runs from September 1, 2020, through August 31, 2021.

Met Éireann, the UK Met Office, and the Dutch National Weather Service (KNMI) have unveiled their list of names for the 2020 - 2021 storm season. The three national meteorological services worked together to compile the list of names based on suggestions from the public and particularly includes some names that reflect the three nations’ diversity.

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Naming storms was first introduced by Met Éireann and the UK Met Office in 2015 and joined by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) in 2019 forming the West group. The Southwest group consists of Portugal, Spain, France, and Belgium.

Once a storm is named by any National Met Service globally, that name is retained if the storm moves into our waters. For example, Ophelia and Lorenzo were named by the National Hurricane Center (NHC, USA) and Emma by IPMA (Portugal). The names are in alphabetical order, alternating between genders. Following the NHC convention names beginning with Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not used.

Kinsale, Co Cork during 2017's Storm Ophelia. (RollingNews.ie)

Kinsale, Co Cork during 2017's Storm Ophelia. (RollingNews.ie)

This naming of storms by National Meteorological Services has been shown to raise awareness of severe weather and help with citizen safety. A storm is named by a National Met Service when Orange or Red level winds are forecast to impact over a wide land area. Orange or Red level gusts can occur in exposed areas without the event being named. In addition, there may be high impact precipitation (rain/snow) associated with the storm system.

Evelyn Cusack, the Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann and Chair of the European Met Services’ Storm Naming Working Group, said: "The naming of storms by National Met Services (as well as color-coding weather warnings as Yellow, Orange, or Red) provides a clear, authoritative and consistent message to the public and prompts people to take action to prevent harm to themselves or to their property."

Cusack added: "The storm names also add an extra interest for people with particular excitement in a family when one of their names appears in the list.

"We mostly pick names that can be easily pronounced but some are less generally recognised. Perhaps (hopefully!) we won’t get as far as Heulwen, a striking Welsh girl’s name, but for the non-Welsh among us, we have included an aide to pronounce it just in case (Hail –wen).

"But although I would love in theory to be able to use the Irish name Saidhbhín if we get that far down the list it will have been a really punishing season!"

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Will Lang, Head of the National Severe Weather Warning Service at the UK Met Office, said: “We are now entering our sixth year of the Name our Storms campaign and we look forward to working closely with our colleagues in Ireland and the Netherlands once again, continuing to raise awareness of the potential impacts of severe weather in order to keep people across our nations safe. 

“The impacts from Storm Ciara and Dennis earlier this year are still fresh in many people’s minds and although it’s too early to anticipate what weather this autumn and winter will bring, we are prepared with a new list of names to help raise awareness of severe weather before it hits.”

Gerard van der Steenhoven, Director General at Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) said: “We gladly continue our collaboration with the UK Met Office and Met Éireann on storm forecasting. As storms are not confined to national borders, it makes a lot of sense to give common names to such extreme weather events. For us at KNMI, it is a great privilege and advantage to work in close co-operation with our colleagues from Ireland and the UK in the communication about storms.”

Ireland’s Storm Names for the 2020 - 2021 season:

  • Aiden - Irish, little fire
  • Bella - British, beautiful
  • Christoph - Dutch, Christ in heart
  • Darcy - British / Irish - dark
  • Evert - Dutch, wild boar
  • Fleur - French, flower
  • Gavin - Welsh, god send
  • Heulwen - Welsh, sun blessed
  • Iain - Scottish, god is gracious
  • Julia - Dutch, youthful
  • Klaas - Dutch, victory
  • Lilah - Arabic, lilac tree
  • Minne - Dutch, love
  • Naia - Muslim, water
  • Oscar - Irish, spear of god
  • Phoebe - English, bright
  • Ravi - Indian, sun
  • Saidhbhín - Irish, goddess
  • Tobias - English, good
  • Veronica - Latin, honest
  • Wilson - Scottish, desire, protection

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