Weather in the United Kingdom in the first few days of 2024 looked similar to the last days of 2023: wet and windy. Just a week after a destructive storm blew through England and Wales, a potent low-pressure system tore through the British Isles.
Large parts of England and Wales saw high winds and rain on January 2, 2024. On the Isle of Wight, off England’s southern coast, winds whipped up to 151 kilometers (94 miles) per hour. And inland, at London’s Heathrow airport, winds gusted up to 111 kilometers (69 miles) per hour. The disturbance brought up to 40 millimeters of rain to areas of Wales and central and southern England on January 2, and the U.K.’s Environment Agency issued more than 250 flood warnings.
England’s Midlands were some of the worst-hit by the storm, including along the River Severn. The image above (right) shows water overtopping the banks of the Severn near Gloucester on January 3. Hundreds of properties located near the Severn in the West Midlands flooded during the storm, according to news reports. For comparison, the image on the left shows the same area on January 30, 2019. Both images were acquired by the OLI (Operational Land Imager) on Landsat 8 and are false color to emphasize the presence of water, which appears in shades of blue.
The storm, named Henk by the U.K. Met Office, uprooted trees, flooded major roads, and snarled rail lines causing travel delays across the U.K. Henk was the U.K.’s first named storm of 2024 and the eighth so far this season (which runs from September to August). According to the Met Office, 2023–24 has had the fastest start to a storm season since it began naming storms in 2015.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Emily Cassidy.