16th February 1962. An Ill Wind.
‘It’s a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries’, said John Masefield. However the birds would have fled the westerlies when freak winds hit Sheffield Today in 1962.
This was when gusts of up to 96-mph resulted in damage to more than 150,000 houses-more than half the city’s stock, resulting in death and destruction.
A State of Emergency was declared and workers from Birmingham and Coventry were dispatched to help in rebuilding.
It is a fallacy that mountain ranges provide shelter for the lee-side as special circumstances occur when normal shelter is suspended and wind is even stronger on that side.
The cause of the phenomena was the Lee-Wave Effect resulting from a warm airflow from west of the Azores. However the lower level nearer the earth had cooled on its journey, the airflow became stratified when it crossed the Pennines on its way to Sheffield just on the other side.
The previous benign westerly stream now deprived of its natural buoyancy bounced back from the upper warm level with the downward movement transmitted to the airflow giving compression near the ground.
Re-bouncing from the ground, vertical waves developed downwind similar to that seen in a river obstruction of a weir. The associated phenomenon Lee-Side, Rotor Clouds added to the extreme eddies and turbulence on that day over Sheffield in 1962.
Zephyrus or Zephyr was the Greek god of the west wind ( Favonius was the Latin), portrayed as a lightly clad youth bearing flowers. Images of the winds are replicated on the tower of the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford, whilst the Athenian Tower of the Winds c 35 BCE, was used as the Royal Meteorological Society logo until 2003.
Zephyr the west wind is normally the pleasant bringer of light spring and early summer breezes, but sometimes brings more than we expect.
chrisgibbs.com. Sheffield Gazette.Newspaper Article.
thetimes.co.uk/article. Paul Simons. 15.2.2017.