By Paul Homewood
It has been variously described as “The Storm of the Century”, “Unprecedented”, “Superstorm” and “A repeat of 1987”. I refer, of course, to the St. Jude storm that passed through early this morning and is now headed off into the North Sea.
Let’s have a look at the impact, and see how it compared to other recent storms in the UK. We have not yet got confirmed figures from the Met Office, but it is unlikely they will be much different to the provisional data below.
The Daily Mail have this useful map, which seems to sum up things nicely.
The Telegraph report that the highest windspeed recorded on the mainland was 82mph at Langdon Bay in Kent. The next highest, 79mph, was in Essex.
Winds of this speed are not unusual in the UK, albeit less common in the south. It was only last year that Scotland experienced a similar storm, as the Met Office report.
The worst affected area was southern Scotland – particularly the Central Belt – where winds gusted at well over 70 knots (81 mph). In this area, this storm was judged as the most severe for 13 years – since 26 December 1998, with wind speeds exceeding those of the recent storm of 8 December 2011. Very strong winds were also experienced across much of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with winds here also widely gusting at 50 to 60 knots (58 to 69 mph).
In England, you have to go back to January 2005 for a comparable storm, this time in the North of England. Again, from the Met Office:
January 7/8 – as a very deep depression (reaching 962 mb) tracked north-eastwards across southern Scotland, strong winds battered England and Wales particularly northern areas. Gusts in excess of 70 knots (81 mph) were recorded from the Isle of Man and north Wales across to the coast of north-east England. 88 knots (101 m.p.h.) was recorded at St Bees Head (Cumbria) and 89 knots (102 m.p.h.) at Aberdaron on the Lleyn peninsula (Gwynedd).
In southern England, the St Jude storm was the strongest since October 2002, when highest gusts of 102mph were recorded at the Needles,( as against 99mph this year). In 2002, the storm hit the west of England and Wales hardest, but, nevertheless, winds over 80mph hit inland areas, such as Cottesmore, in Rutland, which recorded 70 knots (80mph).
The map below suggests that more of the country was affected. (Remember that 60 knots is at least 70mph).
Neither the storm of 2002 or this year’s come anywhere close to the Burn’s Day storm of 1990, or the Great Storm of 1987.
Burns’ Day Storm – January 1990
From the Met archives:
Burns’ Day Storm – 25 January 1990
However, in many places wind speeds were comparable to or higher than October 1987. January 25th is the day when many Scots remember the birthday of their national poet Robert Burns.
The strong winds affected a much larger area than in October 1987 and they struck during the day so consequently there were more deaths and injuries, with 47 lives lost. The wind speeds were comparable to those in 1987, but higher over parts of southern England and Wales. Once again there were disruptions to power supplies and to transport, particularly to road transport because of fallen trees and overturned vehicles. There was also considerable damage to buildings, particularly to housing and to the south of a line from west Wales to Suffolk. The loss of trees was less than in October 1987 since the strongest winds occurred in less wooded areas and deciduous trees were bare of leaves.
The synoptic chart for 12 GMT, 25 January 1990.
The strongest winds were in the late morning and afternoon, with hourly mean speeds in excess of 40 kn (46 mph) across a large part of southern England and Wales and over 50 kn (58 m.p.h.) at exposed places along the coast. Gusts of over 80 kn (92 m.p.h.) were reported along coasts in west Wales and from Cornwall to Kent. The highest gusts recorded were 93 kn (107 m.p.h.) at Aberporth in west Wales and at Gwennap Head in Cornwall. The return period (average frequency of occurrence) of the maximum gusts was estimated at more than 100 years at places from Dorset to west London.
The Great Storm of 1987