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Winter Storm Undine (1991)

Winter storm Undine was one of the costliest European winter storms, particularly affecting the UK, Ireland and northern Germany. It has been noted amongst the top ten storms in terms of financial cost to impact Western Europe in the 1990’s, alongside being recorded as being accompanied by a storm surge.

Meteorological history.

Undine passed into North Western Europe over the 5th and 6th of January 1991. It was one of a cluster of 3 storms to affect Europe within a 2 week period (the others were Wera and Xynthia), tracking along a strong southerly jet stream north of the Canary Islands.

Storm surge and aftermath.

Undine’s storm surge was formed through a combination of fast and strong winds of 37 to 54 knots (gale to storm force) and 54 to 83 knots in wind force. There is little readily available data as to the exact nature, location and extent of the storm surge, though meteorologically, it is known that as the storm passed Ireland, all stations across the country recorded their maximum gusts of the month during the storm.  The passage of the system was accompanied by waves of up to 30m (100 ft) trough to crest being recorded. The depression proceeded to move north-eastwards across the south of Ireland towards the UK and into Northern Germany.

The overall losses as a result of Undine are estimated at 686 EUR m, 366 EUR m of which was insured losses. 30 fatalities were attributed to the storm, predominantly in the UK and Germany. Undine appears in Munich Re's list of 10 costliest european storms with storm surges.

Satellite and in-situ data.

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