The UK Saint Jude's Day Storm – just another fall storm in a long line of many

By Paul Homewood

Crush: A tree fell on a bus on Turnpike Lane in north London. Police closed the road

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.

Weather Data

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



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Piers Corbin had, of course, predicted this one 🙂 or did he?


These storms are common in the north of Scotland especially this time of year, but the jet stream is much further south.;sess=

Bob Hitchen

We did manage to get to 16mph in Solihull so affecting the whole country is a fantasy. Only reason we really heard about it was because it affected the S.E. 200 trees down is hardly a major event even there. Railways are highly vulnerable because of shallow rooted trees growing on embankments..

pablo an ex pat

I remember the 1987 storm really well. I know that the Alarmists are going to claim that they see the hand of climate change/climate confusion/weather wierding. Anyone with a modicum of sense will sniff that out as being bunkum so I really hope that they do. It makes them look silly. Weather is not Climate !

Peter Miller

I have not yet heard any bleats that “this storm is further proof of global warming”, and not just some unusually severe weather.
Sadly, the critical word here is ‘yet’, by now the pseudo-scientists must be lining up around the block with their ‘proofs’ – the Guardian and the BBC will be first in line with their dubious ‘experts’ confirming that this storm was not weather, but 110% copper-bottomed, evidence confirming imminent Thermageddon.

Rhys Jaggar

‘Ferocious rain, thunder and winds attack S/W parts and head east, bringing heavy rain, hail, thunderfloods and tornados likely, firstly in S/W parts and then in east and north. Thick cloud. Very mild nights, days also mild (less so in SW). No change from 45d’
The above is from Piers Corbyn’s October 30day ahead forecast, for the period 29th October to 31st, for which I am a subscriber and I received the forecast on 1st October.
The storm arrived one day early, but that’s pretty good from 6 weeks out (you’ll note the last sentence – NO CHANGE FROM 45 DAY FORECAST), isn’t it??

In our neck of the woods-the South West-the storm was not as bad as had at first been feared. Analysing it now on the local news the BBC meteorologist said it was the worst storm in this region for nearly….roll of drums….two years.
Nowhere near as bad as 1987, but bad enough of course for those who suffered the thankfully rare tragic consequences.

M Courtney

Let’s not downplay the seriousness of this weather event.
Four people were killed.
It would be right to pause and remember that.


I live about 130 miles from London and we saw nothing of it here.
It is big news because it affected the south east where most of the national media are based.

London SW19:
If the 1987’s October storm was an elephant the 2013 October’s storm was a medium size pig.


Its right to remember the damage and the deaths, but also to compare it to a normal day’s worth of accidents.
But the biggest storm was the storm of speculation before it. As a result we see the rail network closed down before the storm hit on the assumption that it was going to be far worse.


Here in North Lincolnshire where l live we got off rather lightly.
Because the centre of the storm passed almost overhead, so missing the strongest of the winds. When l awoke this morning and checked my barometer it was reading 28.80 inches (975) millibars. This has been the second lowest reading l have recorded since having the barometer since October 1994.

Alexander K

As a former resident of Hounslow, I am always surprised by how little damage results from high winds as the the housing stock in much of London dates from the Victorian era when developers were not constrained by much in the way of a sensible (and enforcible) building code.
For example, roof timbers were not wired on to walls, very few steel-reinforced concrete bondbeams were tied into the construction and very little in the way of diagonal bracing was employed. As an Antipodean observer with some practical knowledge and experience of building structures to withstand inclement weather events, it seems that a mostly benevolent climate with low inherent wind speeds without significant earthquake risk allowed English builders to work on the principle “It won’t fall down because there is nothing holding it up!”

T’aint a fit night out for man nor beast.


I was in both storms (yesterdays and 1987) and I was also in areas which had the highest wind. This time I was in both high wind and heavy rain.
The 1987 storm was far worse.

Peter N

I understand 4 people lost their lives last night in accidents directly related to the storm (falling trees etc.), This is of course tragic for them and their families.
Overall however the storm last night was over-hyped (shock!!!) and in comparison to 1987, which I remember fairly well, a damp squib.
The BBC are still calling it “the worst storm to hit the UK in a quarter of a century” though perhaps they have to try to justify why half their normal presenters weren’t on air today (and BBC on-line ‘Have Your Say’ was conspicuous by its almost complete absence – one story started at 1pm).
The small number of tragic events aside, it was a complete non-event.

I’m in the South West too. I followed the gale on local weather stations and it seemed as if it was basically a force 8 with the odd gust to force 9 or maybe force 10. Fierce stuff – but hardly out of character for Cornwall and the UK. The BBC lunchtime national TV news opened by claiming it was the “worst storm for decades”. That was certainly playing fast and loose with the truth, and was also in conflict with other BBC reports being broadcast simultaneously. Why do they do that? An “agenda”? Or perhaps just an aversion to letting the facts get in the way of a good story.
My go-to man for UK climate is Philip Eden ( I’ll be interested to see what he has to say about.

Jenn Oates

I think we call this weather. 🙂


Any deaths are tragic, and there are so far 4 reported including 2 teenagers.
This was simply an Atlantic autumn gale, albeit on the stronger side, but nothing particularly notable – except the media hysteria.

Mike Smith

I telephoned my 88 year old mom who lives on the South Coast (about a mile from the English Channel) this morning to see how she weathered what my local paper called the “Worst Storm in 60 Years”. She was just fine and summarized this unprecedented hurricane strength storm thusly:
“It’s a bit windy. But I don’t know what all of the fuss was about.”

Rhys Jaggar says:
October 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm
The above is from Piers Corbyn’s October 30day ahead forecast, for the period 29th October to 31st, for which I am a subscriber and I received the forecast on 1st October.
The storm arrived one day early,

I didn’t see where in the forecast the day of the storm was given. Perhaps I missed it. The forecast talks about ‘Very mild nights, days also mild’ so does not seem to be about any specific time, but rather just for the whole period, during which such a storm is a common occurrence.

David, UK

Commiserations to the families of the four who dies in this storm. Sadly there will be those in the Green industry who will capitalise on this and repeat the old cliché that this is “consistent” with climate change and that it is a “sign of things to come.” Sigh.

David, UK

Oh yeah, and that other cliché: The New Normal. Double-sigh.

David, UK

Oh, and let’s not forget the old “Dirty Weather.”

Paul in Sweden

We had all kinds of Storm Warnings on Front Pages, Radio and TV for the West Coast of Sweden. The wind stations told me a different story. In the end earlier this evening my wife said to me the storm didn’t even really move the leaves on the ground around… Weather hype all over the place these days.

Brian Johnson UK

How many road deaths in UK on a daily basis? Around 5.
Also look at the Great Storm of 1703 for real ‘weather’………


Those wishing to link this to anthropogenic global warming should note the name St Jude. Patron saint of lost causes.


BTW in the UK , this time of year is called autumn.
Fall is something you may do in a strong wind.

Adam Gallon

Nothing of note here on the Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire border. It was windier on Sunday afternoon. Buckets of rain this morning, however.

Steve Jones

The BBC has a new ploy with regard to events like this. In their articles you will find comments like…’blah, blah, blah…this has some people asking whether there could be a possible link to climate change’. They can’t help themselves, they know cAGW is a crock but have to keep pushing the message.

How about the worst storm ever recorded in British History before the industrial revolution so nothing to do with “climate change”.

Daniel Defoe produced his first book, The Storm, published in July 1704, in response to the calamity, calling it “the tempest that destroyed woods and forests all over England”. “No pen could describe it, nor tongue express it, nor thought conceive it unless by one in the extremity of it,” he wrote of it. Coastal towns such as Portsmouth “looked as if the enemy had sackt them and were most miserably torn to pieces”. He thought the destruction of the sovereign fleet was a punishment for their poor performance against the Catholic armies of France and Spain during the first year of the War of the Spanish Succession.
Observers at the time recorded barometric readings as low as 973 millibars (measured by William Derham in South Essex) but it has been suggested that the storm may have deepened to 950 millibars over the Midlands.

Somewhere between 8000 to 15000 lives were lost.
Extreme weather is not caused by CO2.

The BBC (Shukman) were full of praise for their buddies at the Met Office, who correctly forecast it 4 days ago, using their super-computer and state of the art weather model. No mention of Piers Corbyn and his basics physics, forecasting it 6 weeks ago. Bonuses all round at the Met Office.

Two fatalities in the Netherlands so far, the storm passed rather quickly where I live. The first severe storm since 2007.


The Beeb hasn’t been plugging “climate change” or “weather weirding” but has been emphasizing that the storm had been predicted for days. Good old Micheal Fish has been on several times saying how they have got much better computers and models since 1987 (when he famously said that there wasn’t going to be a hurricane). The message seems to be that we can believe the Met Office.
Both the ’87 storm and this one only really affected southern UK (mostly England), which is of course where the mainstream media live, so gets reported. Here in Cambridge the ’87 was worse – although I did need several hours with chainsaw this morning.


“The 10 Worst Storms in British History”
“Great Storm of 1703”
Then of course there were the storms that were not recorded or chronicled.

George Lawson

What I would like to know is how the 102mph ‘recorded just off the Dover coast’ and reported by the BBC was in fact recorded..

Tom J

‘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.’
Coming soon to a theatre near you:
‘The Perfect Storm of the Century’
‘The Unprecedenteds’
‘The Return of the Superstorm’
‘Superstorm Part II’
‘Revenge of the Superstorm’
‘The Day the Superstorm Stood Still’
‘Whatever You Do, Don’t Repeat 1987’
‘Fahrenheit 1987’
‘Deep Throat’
Caught you on that last one, eh?

Gunga Din

M Courtney says:
October 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm
Let’s not downplay the seriousness of this weather event.
Four people were killed.
It would be right to pause and remember that.

What I think people are reacting to is any implication that “Carbon Pollution” somehow caused it.
It was a weather event. Sometimes the weather is good. Sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes it’s really bad. Man has little or nothing to do with causing it.
A casualty of the CAGW hype is sometimes empathy for those effected by naturally bad weather.


The design of structures in the UK are carried out using British Standards/Euro Codes as follows, and please note I have converted from metric to imperial :
1 The basic wind speed is chosen by location and typically would be approx 90mph.
2 This wind speed is then factored for topography, elevation and the type of structure. For open country with few wind breaks this speed could increase to over 100 mph
3 The wind speed is then turned into a pressure.
4 To design a structure load factors are used and this would increase to 140mph in addition material factors are used further increasing the wind speed to say 160 mph.
Any structure which failed under the recent storm are either poorly designed or poorly constructed or a combination if both.
Thus the wind speed recently is not unusual and the codes that identify these speeds have been in existence for over sixty years.
The BBC recently informed us that a wind turbine blew over due to the high winds however they did not educate us on the reasons why?

99 mph I o Wight this morning!

Mick J

George Lawson says:
October 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm
What I would like to know is how the 102mph ‘recorded just off the Dover coast’ and reported by the BBC was in fact recorded..
Maybe read on a lightship or buoy. The following link displays weather stations, click on an arrow off the coast to get its name and current weather data. It may have been the Sandettie Light Vessel.
I was using this site during the storm, interesting to watch the projections fall as the event approached. 🙂 In the end here in West Norfolk there was prolonged rain with the occasional gust around 7am but little at 3am when the highest gusts were forecast, indeed, it was very still. Probably within the eye at that time.


lsvalgaard says:
October 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm
Piers Corbin had, of course, predicted this one 🙂 or did he?
You might even more admire labour of the younger brother Corbyn, member of the British Parliament
Jeremy Corbyn MP @jeremycorbyn 4h
Impressive turnout for Roma Voices event in Parliament tonight with horrific film of fascist violence in Czech Republic. Defend all rights!

Mike Ozanne

I live in Bournemouth, bit of rain, bit of wind, big f@cking deal.. trains were shagged, drove to hammersmith, and got the tube to my client appointment. Road was dry by Winchester..

We have three more days in the hurricane season of 2013. Given zero tropical storm activity in the Atlantic, it is a foregone conclusion that the historic drought in category three or better hurricanes making landfall in the continental US will continue. This year’s hurricane season was basically the second wimpiest in my entire lifetime (and I’m 58, and the first decade of my lifetime preceded anything like decent satellite coverage and so doubtless underreported storms that nowadays are not missed, such as the little teeny storm that never even developed an eye in the middle of the Atlantic a couple of weeks ago — a “tropical storm” that you could have blinked and missed, especially back in 1960. Counting every single tropical wave and depression as observed by satellite with modern instrumentation, EVEN with this “superstorm” the Atlantic and Gulf were amazingly quiet, and the Atlantic SSTs were never particularly high even in the tropics.
We’ve already had a killing frost in NC — a low of 30F within a single degree of the record set back in 1964 three days ago — and are bouncing along with lows substantially lower than the average. Yet we are told that “September was the fourth warmest on record”. Maybe somewhere, but not here, not in the Atlantic, not in the Arctic, and somehow Antarctica was setting records for sea ice extent at the same time the Arctic hit its minimum both early and solidly above its recent minimum extents. India is experiencing record floods — floods! — in October, a month that is usually hot and dry, long after monsoon.
None of which means much of anything but that weather is highly variable, with some places setting records in BOTH directions and a lot more places seeing nothing unusual at all. The really interesting thing is that the weather now LOCALLY seems to greatly resemble the patterns last seen in the 1950s and 1960s, yet the claim is made that global temperatures are substantially warmer now than they were then.
Perhaps. But not outside my door. 2013 has been definitely and systematically cooler in NC than, say, 1980 or 1988. Indeed, it has been one of the most pleasant years I can remember in the last 40, a comparatively cool summer, gentle fall, and if anything early frost. I’m anticipating a pretty chilly winter, if only because my dogs are shedding like mad, but we’ll see. Winter temperatures are dominated by where the weather comes from, around here — when we get persistent highs that pull cold air down from Alaska and Canada, the Southeast is drier and bitterly cold. If we get warmer, wetter air coming up from the Gulf, it is warmer and wetter (big surprise). If we get a perfect mixture of the two, it can be snowy, but snow in NC is a rare treat, a holiday.


Steve Jones says:
October 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm
The BBC has a new ploy with regard to events like this. In their articles you will find comments like…’blah, blah, blah…this has some people asking whether there could be a possible link to climate change’. They can’t help themselves, they know cAGW is a crock but have to keep pushing the message.
Possibly sensing lawsuits and correctly thinking that the mythical “some people” would make for a particularly difficult defendant to find.
Greg says:
October 28, 2013 at 1:35 pm
Those wishing to link this to anthropogenic global warming should note the name St Jude. Patron saint of lost causes.


A bit UK centric. Some people died in the Netherlands and Germany as well, and the storm is still on its way to the Baltic. Germany did record all-time high wind speeds at Helgoland though (191 km/h). I haven’t seen the storm being described as a once in a century (or longer) occurrence, but maybe i haven’t been paying enough attention to the British press.


The German Island Helgoland in the North Sea and Borkum at the North Sea coast reported 191 km/h gusts (119 mph) and Denmark 120.5 mph. These were the highest ever recorded wind speeds in this region. Other all-time records are reported from inland stations. So it was indeed an unprecedented extra-tropical mesoscale cyclone in this region.
Still, it is just weather. One has to consider also that some decades ago it was hardly possible to measure such very high wind speeds. In addition, studies on historical storminess indicate no long-term trend since the 1860s or even a slight decrease (e.g. geostrophic wind speed indices calculated from homogenized pressure observations).
The media in Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands were far from hysteria. Some even didn’t mention the extreme storm at all or just did so in the evening news reporting the traffic problems and falling trees. It should be also noted that central Europe is on average very well prepared even to this high wind gusts and also storm floods. Are you equally well prepared over there in the US? It is about weather, not climate change.

John Campbell

Here in North Hampshire we got winds just below 30mph, and a couple of short-lived showers. We hardly noticed it. Nothing like 1987.