Mighty North Sea Storm Xaver Battering Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:09 PM GMT on December 05, 2013

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For the first time since 2007, the massive flood gates that protect the Netherlands from the North Sea have been closed, as a mighty North Sea storm hurls a huge storm surge propelled by near-hurricane force winds against the coast of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. Windstorm "Xaver", as it is called by the Free University of Berlin, has already killed one person in Scotland, where a truck driver was killed and four people were injured in an accident west of Edinburgh when high winds toppled a vehicle onto several cars. Winds gusted up to 142 mph overnight in the Scottish Highlands; many roads and bridges were closed, and all train services in Scotland were suspended; Network Rail spokesman Nick King said that "there's too much debris and too much damage to equipment to continue." At 2:55 pm local time Thursday, oil rig F3 in the North Sea about 200 km (125 miles) north of the Netherlands recorded sustained winds of 83 mph, gusting to 99 mph. These winds were recorded at an elevation of 49 meters (161 feet), so were stronger than the standard winds measured at 10 meters at most world airports. Oil rig Ula off the coast of southern Norway recorded sustained winds of 91 mph, gusting to 108 mph, at 2 pm local time. On the west coast of Denmark at St. Peter Ording Airfield, sustained winds of 58 mph were recorded at 2 pm local time. Winds at Sylt, Germany were 58 mph at 5 pm local time (see the Sylt, Germany beach webcam here.


Figure 1. Waves lash the North Sea coast at the ferry dock in Dagebuell, Germany, on December 5, 2013. (CARSTEN REHDER/AFP/Getty Images)


Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Windstorm Xaver taken at approximately 11 UTC Thursday December 5, 2013. Image credit: NASA Worldview.

Heavy wind damage likely
A squall line with severe thunderstorms has developed along a cold front that is sweeping across Northern Europe this Thursday afternoon, and these thunderstorms are bringing intense lightning, heavy rains, and damaging winds. The European Storm Forecast Experiment is warning of the risk of tornadoes with this squall line, and damaging wind gusts of up to 90 mph (145 kph) in the severe thunderstorms. The Thursday morning 00Z run of the European model predicted that Xaver would bottom out with a central pressure near 960 mb Friday morning; the GFS model had it stronger, at 956 mb. This will make Xaver stronger the October's Windstorm "Christian" (AKA the St. Jude storm), which bottomed out at 968 mb. Christian killed 18, and did $1.4 billion in damage. It is possible that the wind damage from Xaver will approach that of Windstorm Anatol, which hit Denmark, Southwest Sweden, and Northern Germany on December 3, 1999. Anatol had sustained winds of up to 91 mph (146 kph), killed 20 people, and injured over 800. Damage was $2.6 billion (1999 dollars) in Denmark, making it the costliest disaster in Danish history.


Figure 3. Severe weather warnings for Xaver from the European Storm Forecast Experiment.

3.5-meter storm surge predicted for Germany
The maximum storm tide of Xaver will be in Germany and Denmark, and will be unusually high, since we are only two days past the new moon. Fortunately, the German coast is well protected by dikes, which are about 8 meters high, and these dikes should be able to withstand Xaver's storm surge. The German weather service storm surge forecast made Thursday morning called for a storm tide of 3.5 meters (11.5') above average high tide in Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven during the high tide cycle early Friday morning. This is about 4.8 meters above mean sea level in Bremerhaven, which will be very close to the all-time record of 5.18 m above mean sea level set there in January 1976.

German storm surge history
The deadliest flood of the last hundred years in Germany was the "North Sea flood" in 1962 (16/17 February), where many dikes broke and 340 people were killed. In the Bremerhaven area, the dikes from the 1840s were just able to withstand the storm surge but were heavily damaged. Bremerhaven had installed storm surge gates at the mouth of the river Geeste in summer 1961 as a reaction to the 1953 flood in the Netherlands. That small-scale Deltaworks saved the city. After this catastrophe, the dikes along the German coast were strengthened. Just in time, as the highest storm surge of at least the last hundred years occurred in January 1976. In Hamburg, the 1976 flood was 4.35 meters (14.3') above average high tide, which is 6.45 meters (21.2') above mean sea level. This is 75 cm higher than the storm surge of 1962, but the dikes were strong and high enough in 1976 to withstand the flood. Thanks go to Dr. Michael Theusner of the German climate museum Klimahaus for these stats.

Links
Weather graphics and storm impacts from Storm #Xaver from Tim Ballisty @IrishEagle
Sylt, Germany webcam
‪Dagebüll‬, Germany ferry terminal webcam
Thyboroen, Denmark webcam (thanks go to wunderground member barbamz for this link.)
24-hour storm surge forecasts and actual water levels for the North Sea coast
Tide chart for Bremerhaven, Germany. The highest storm tide will occur at high tide at 1:59 UTC (2:59 CET) on Friday morning.
German weather forum
Wikipedia's list of great European windstorms.
A list of the severest storm surges at the North Sea (in German) and a not so-detailed list in English here
The Future of Intense Winter Storms, my 2010 blog post on climate change and winter storms (updated in early 2013.)

Jeff Masters

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Quoting 56. fmbill:


Close. Gomer said it to Barney Fife. Classic episode!!!
I think you are right fmbill...Long time ago
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5822
Quoting 52. PalmBeachWeather:
I already got in trouble with Andre by saying dammit 1900... Now you are posting that diagram


I see what you did there. xD

Anyways, RIP, TD 33.

Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Quoting 35. PalmBeachWeather:
Barney Fife...... I believe he said "Citizens arrest"


Close. Gomer said it to Barney Fife. Classic episode!!!
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Quoting 10. dabirds:
Woke up this a.m. to the sound of sleet pellets in S C IL, just a light dusting as initial line moved through. Just took a peek at the 7 day, nothing above freezing, with single digit lows at the end of the period, so appears we'll be making up for the low A/C bills this summer at least for a while.

Currently 27 w/ 24 dew pt., up to 30.05", WNW winds 7-12 w/ 24 gusts. Broken lower clouds w/ higher level clouds allowing some light, but no sky, to keep things from being totally dreary, but winter is definitely here. Hope the icing to our S & SW is not as bad as forecast, but... The latest for our area keeps most of the snow S of I-70, so we've been dropped into the dusting - 1" from the 1-2" initial forecast. Stay safe!


That forecast is still very much subject to change, especially with the second shortwave amplifying this trough. I have seen this set up way too many times growing up only to watch the strength of the 2nd shortwave alter the track of the system. This system could easily back northwest by 50 miles or it could throw back more moisture on its northwestern side, if the system becomes stronger than predicted and then would result in a track further to the northwest.



Notice the precipitation field running parallel and north of the current front and how the precip is expanding to the north as it moves along it. This is key to what you and I will get out of this system. It would not take much for us to go from 0-1" to 3-5" Going to be very cold very a very long while across the Midwest. Tis the season!

6-10

8-14
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Quoting 19. cRRKampen:
Cf is through Holland, passing with driving rain turning into hail or sleet, and quite thundery for a December event.
Max gust 137 km/h on the eastern coast of the IJsselmeer (Stavoren).
They pre-emptively stopped all rail traffic north of Amsterdam but it's starting up again.
Damages generally light, though a wall or two crashed down from a home (Katwijk). Branches, some trees, some roof tiles.
About double the normal traffic jams, this is partly explained by Santa Claus being today.

The October storm was far worse for Holland - then, 3 dead and over $ 140 million damages.

Concentrate on Germany, Denmark and Poland where they'll get the full blast. And surge.


Agreed, damage appears to be much lighter and focused mainly on coastal settlements, the real problems are the very high and sustained winds along NW Germany and Denmark, going into N Germany and NW Poland later tonight, and I think especially the surge tonight and tomorrow morning towards Hamburg and the small cities at the mouth of the Elbe.
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I believe that this system is now, in fact, a subtropical storm. We will find out.... in 30 minutes.

Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Quoting 47. 1900hurricane:
Xaver is entering the latter stages of bombogenesis now.



I already got in trouble with Andre by saying dammit 1900... Now you are posting that diagram
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5822
Quoting 46. weathermanwannabe:
Thanks Dr. Pretty amazing to me how so many sections of coastal Europe hugging the North Sea have these massive dike and wall structures to help protect from storms and related storm surge issues.


Did a doubletake on this - was wondering who was Dr. Pretty ;)
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 2 Comments: 3731
Thanks, Dr. Masters.
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Can we stop copping and get back to blogging please..thank you.
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Xaver is entering the latter stages of bombogenesis now.



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Thanks Dr. Pretty amazing to me how so many sections of coastal Europe hugging the North Sea have these massive dike and wall structures to help protect from storms and related storm surge issues.  Mind you, these structures do not protect the entire coasts but they are often built, as you have noted, at the entrances to major harbors and/or shipping ports to literally enhance a "safe harbor" for the shipping and coastal interests.  I saw a part of this European flood gate system protecting harbor/post in Antwerp, Belgium in 1999 and was pretty impressed/awed looking out at these structures.

Have to consider if the United States will ever have the political will (or most importantly the money) to attempt similar barriers for sections of the US coast.  I don't see that happening anytime in the near future unless we see a drastic rise in storm surge damage (due to sea level rise and/or hurricanes) in the upcoming years.  Just interesting to me how Europe, with the proliferation of North Sea storms in past decades, actually made the investment.  Also interesting to note that the European "lowlands", and particularly Holland and the Netherlands, are in a similar position to the New Orleans area and their dikes.  The US however, can never fully protect our heavily populated barrier islands on the Eastern Seaboard as it would way to costly...........Evacuation during a hurricane is the only reasonable option in those situations.    
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Quoting 778. StormTrackerScott:
If the Euro is correct then we might get a December Tornado Outbreak next weekend across the south.





Wow. This is a very amplified pattern we are in right now!
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I mentioned at one point last night that the explosively deepening Xaver may have been featuring a sting jet, which is strong winds from jet stream/stratospheric air mixed down to the surface through Conditional Symmetric Instability (CSI, commonly known as slantwise convection) at the tip of the dry slot during bombogenesis, and that the sting jet may impact northern Scotland. The 142 mph wind gust seems to support the notion.



Image from last night with the dry slot and possible sting jet about to crash into far northern Scotland.
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Long time lurker from Scotland here... the storm has at least brought down some welcome cold air and the first low-level snow of the season here. The disruption appears to be slightly less in Scotland than suffered during Friedhelm (December 8 2011). Both this storm and October's storm bottomed out in the North Sea and over Europe rather than over Scotland so we've been lucky, North Sea communities less so.
Winter storms tend to be less damaging here as the leaves are long gone and the trees are used to a fair battering by winds throughout the year. Mostly travel disruption and people being on the roads when they perhaps shouldn't have... had the UK Met Office given a 'red' warning (as it did for Friedhelm) instead of its largely ignored 'amber' level then those accidents might just have been avoided by work, school and university closures.

The big, cloudy high pressure that's been over us for a few weeks will return by the weekend, hopefully the blocked pattern in the US will develop a similar cold block on this side of the Atlantic in time for Christmas.
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storm tracker scott dont worry by dec 20 we will have a lot of front come by
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Quoting 36. Andrebrooks:
The rules, are the rules you have to follow them.
Guess you don't know me too well Andre... Good luck with that
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5822
Quoting 37. eddye:
storm tracker scott at least next week were geting a strong cold front then we can say bye 2 the heat


Only back to average though for a day or 2 then back up the ladder we go. This mid level ridge over FL & the Bahamas has really limited the amount of fronts that are able to make it into C & S FL so far this Fall.

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Quoting 38. PalmBeachWeather:
Andrebrooks is my boss... I didn't know that until 5 minutes ago.Geeeez
Alright, gotta go, be on y'all best behavior.
Member Since: March 25, 2013 Posts: 29 Comments: 991
Quoting 34. StormTrackerScott:


I thought you were retired so really you have no boss.
Andrebrooks is my boss... I didn't know that until 5 minutes ago.Geeeez
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storm tracker scott at least next week were geting a strong cold front then we can say bye 2 the heat
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Quoting 33. PalmBeachWeather:
Seems I cannot express myself any longer if Andrebrooks has his way.... LOL
The rules, are the rules you have to follow them.
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Quoting 32. daddyjames:


Well if you were quoting what was actually said from a tv show . . . sheesh.
Barney Fife...... I believe he said "Citizens arrest"
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Quoting 21. PalmBeachWeather:
Ok boss


I thought you were retired so really you have no boss.
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Quoting 31. PalmBeachWeather:
Seems I cannot express myself any longer if Andrebrooks has his way.... LOL
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Quoting 25. PalmBeachWeather:
Citizens patrol


Well if you were quoting what was actually said from a tv show . . . sheesh.
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Quoting 23. Andrebrooks:
Keep it civil. Personal attacks, bickering, flaming, and general trollish behavior will not be tolerated. Disagreements are fine, but keep them civil and short.
Stay on topic.
No monomania.
No hot linking external or copyright images without the image owner's permission.
Do not circumvent a ban. Most bans last 24 hours or less, please accept the ban. If you create a new username to circumvent a ban, you will be blocked from the site completely.
No comments that contain only personal notes such as, "Good Morning!", or "You've got mail, X".
Do not "1st!", "1st post!", or any of the numerical/linguistic derivatives. This is a worthless use of blog space.
No spamming.
No spamming.
Seriously, no spamming. Spamming includes but is not limited to, trying to sell products, trying to solicit traffic for your own blog, trying to solicit traffic for other commercial entities, etc. Do not post links to your own site unless they are directly relevant and even then, use sparingly.
Political comments are allowed, as long as they're in reference to science, science policy, or the blog topic.
Tips
Got me scared
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5822
84 here and climbing. Might hit 87 or 88 today.

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Quoting 28. StormTrackerScott:


Ah shit! Pass the peas Pat.



Really.
Member Since: March 25, 2013 Posts: 29 Comments: 991
Dallas,Texas Temperature 36.7 °F

New Orleans,La. 76F
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Quoting 13. help4u:
No coverage of this major winter storm and record cold,this site is truly agenda driven.Amazing no coverage.Will probably be working the ice storms the next week or so thought i could get some info here.Quess this site no longer covers cold events in the world.


Chris Burt did post something yesterday . . .

But, I have a feeling that will provide no consolation for how you feel ;)
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 2 Comments: 3731
Quoting 22. VR46L:


LOL !!!

Soon there will be more cops than bloggers.
Citizens patrol
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5822
On June 29, 2011...Los Alamos, NM was on the edge of disaster from the Los Conchas Wildfire.

A bold plan was described at the noon news conference, and at 2:00 PM, those decisions were enacted.

Here are two video that document both events.

This first video is the news conference.

The second video is a time lapse of the actions taken by over 1,000 people manning the fire lines.





Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Keep it civil. Personal attacks, bickering, flaming, and general trollish behavior will not be tolerated. Disagreements are fine, but keep them civil and short.
Stay on topic.
No monomania.
No hot linking external or copyright images without the image owner's permission.
Do not circumvent a ban. Most bans last 24 hours or less, please accept the ban. If you create a new username to circumvent a ban, you will be blocked from the site completely.
No comments that contain only personal notes such as, "Good Morning!", or "You've got mail, X".
Do not "1st!", "1st post!", or any of the numerical/linguistic derivatives. This is a worthless use of blog space.
No spamming.
No spamming.
Seriously, no spamming. Spamming includes but is not limited to, trying to sell products, trying to solicit traffic for your own blog, trying to solicit traffic for other commercial entities, etc. Do not post links to your own site unless they are directly relevant and even then, use sparingly.
Political comments are allowed, as long as they're in reference to science, science policy, or the blog topic.
Tips
Member Since: March 25, 2013 Posts: 29 Comments: 991
Quoting 18. Andrebrooks:
No profane language in WU.


LOL !!!

Soon there will be more cops than bloggers.
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Quoting 18. Andrebrooks:
No profane language in WU.
Ok boss
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Quoting 13. help4u:
No coverage of this major winter storm and record cold,this site is truly agenda driven.Amazing no coverage.Will probably be working the ice storms the next week or so thought i could get some info here.Quess this site no longer covers cold events in the world.


If you go to the Wunderground.com homepage, you can scroll down to News stories. There you will find coverage of the latest winter storm.

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Cf is through Holland, passing with driving rain turning into hail or sleet, and quite thundery for a December event.
Max gust 137 km/h on the eastern coast of the IJsselmeer (Stavoren).
They pre-emptively stopped all rail traffic north of Amsterdam but it's starting up again.
Damages generally light, though a wall or two crashed down from a home (Katwijk). Branches, some trees, some roof tiles.
About double the normal traffic jams, this is partly explained by Santa Claus being today.

The October storm was far worse for Holland - then, 3 dead and over $ 140 million damages.

Concentrate on Germany, Denmark and Poland where they'll get the full blast. And surge.
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Quoting 17. PalmBeachWeather:
My dog too? Dammit Jim
No profane language in WU.
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Quoting 16. MrMixon:
It's a conspiracy I tells ya... they're out to get you. And your little dog too.
My dog too? Dammit Jim
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5822
It's a conspiracy I tells ya... they're out to get you. And your little dog too.

(Oh, and it's COLD here this morning. -1F now, -12F last night. Which proves finally and beyond a shadow of a doubt that.... it gets cold in Colorado in December. Now we know).
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Quoting 11. eddye:
bubba wth
eddye.What are you trying to say¿
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Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6842
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bubba wth
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Woke up this a.m. to the sound of sleet pellets in S C IL, just a light dusting as initial line moved through. Just took a peek at the 7 day, nothing above freezing, with single digit lows at the end of the period, so appears we'll be making up for the low A/C bills this summer at least for a while.

Currently 27 w/ 24 dew pt., up to 30.05", WNW winds 7-12 w/ 24 gusts. Broken lower clouds w/ higher level clouds allowing some light, but no sky, to keep things from being totally dreary, but winter is definitely here. Hope the icing to our S & SW is not as bad as forecast, but... The latest for our area keeps most of the snow S of I-70, so we've been dropped into the dusting - 1" from the 1-2" initial forecast. Stay safe!
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From Formation until Now 24 hrs in a minute from Norway Met Sat Imagery
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6842
keeper of the gate does the new gfs show cold air for fl any cold fronts cause im geting tired of this heat






eddye.........ten day outlook bubba........
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 672 Comments: 21435

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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