storm history

storm impacts

Braer BBC


Braer storm

Braer pressure chart

Significance: one of several major storms to hit Shetland in the 1990s, which led to the loss of the tanker Braer

Eumetsat comment: January 1993 was one of the most stormy months of the 20th century in the Northern Atlantic and also one of the wettest January's in Scotland. During one of the storms, on 5 January 1993, the oil tanker Braer became stranded on rocks off Shetland in a severe gale, causing one of the biggest oil spills ever and creating a major environmental disaster in an internationally known wildlife area. The ship was carrying almost double the amount of crude oil that was aboard the Exxon Valdez when it ran aground in Alaska in 1989. The Braer finally broke up completely during a subsequent storm on 10-11 January 1993 which established a record central low pressure  of 916 hPa (confirmed) for the north Atlantic (913 hPa claimed) and which is the lowest recorded mean sea level pressure in the world outside of tropical storms and the centres of tornadoes.
On this occasion, all factors enhancing the rapid development of the low pressure weather system coincided, e.g. the position of the jet stream, the three-dimensional thermal structure of the atmosphere, development within an existing region of low pressure, the sea surface temperature, the polar ice, all leading to the formation of an incredibly deep low. In the world of meteorology, if a low deepens more than 24 hPa in 24 hours it is called "explosive cyclogenesis".