Saturday, 23 September 2017

Remember the great storms of 2013-14? - will those Caribbean hurricanes make it to the UK?

WindyTV provides a superb animated forecast (you choose any one of a dozen parameters like wind or wave height) - this sequence takes in the entire North Atlantic showing how the hurricanes and low pressure weather systems track NE across the Atlantic to the western shores of the UK.

Here's a reminder of the winter of 2013-14 when the UK was hit by twelve huge storms from October to February that traversed the Atlantic in ever-increasing ferocity culminating in the Valentine's Day storm that created so much destruction to ports like Porthleven.

It was not only UK fishermen that suffered of course where many boats were forced to stay tied up in port for weeks at a time. In France, a handful braved the forecasts and tried to put together a trip of fish. Rémy Baranger, a skipper of Loctudy in Finistère, sent these videos taken over the last few days of that February storm aboard his trawler, Phoenix 1. They were south of Ireland when the trawler from Loctudy encountered Dantésque sea conditions

Remy Baranger has faced storms and rough sea conditions many times in the last 18 years since he fished from Loctudy in Finistère.

But that last fishing trip will remain etched forever in his mind and in the memory of his crew. On February 1st 2014, the Phoenix 1 left Loctudy, and on Thursday February 13th, fourteen days in the midst of the storms that swept the North Atlantic in recent weeks. Fourteen days when the crew were tossed by the heavy swell and the winds.

"We took advantage of a weather window to leave on February 1st, when all the others were coming back." Arriving on the fishing area, halfway between southern Ireland and the Isles of Scilly (east of English Cornwall), the Phoenix 1 met very difficult sea conditions. 

It was also in a fishing zone nearby and that same night (from February 1 to 2) that the Sillon, a trawler of Guilvinec will be victim of a wave scélérate. The six fishermen of the Sillon were forced to abandoned their boat and were hoisted from the sea by SAR helicopter and then recovered.

The weather was so bad the boat only managed one fishing day out of each two.

From stormy seas, the crew of the Phoenix 1 has already braved on many occasions. But what especially marked these professionals of the fishing, it was the power of the winds encountered during those last days. "The crests of winds that we are not used to seeing." Gusts that mean that in this zone where there is no "very high depth and where the sea is less formed", the swell becomes terrible. Winds at 50, 60 knots with points at more than 85 knots, as shown by the anemometer of the trawler in the video shot by the fisherman. A sea in fury that makes these experienced sailors sometimes afraid:

"We took two serious waves. They could have smashed the boat. " "Some of my crew told me they had never seen anything like it before." "These are conditions that you only see once in your life," says Rémy Baranger.

Full story courtesy of France3 TV translated by Google.