Weather warnings for England and Wales were extended last night after parts of Britain had more than a month’s worth of rainfall in 42 hours in storms not seen since March.
Persistent downpours have brought flooding and transport disruption, with more than 20 flood alerts in place as the Met Office issued amber warnings in Wales, the West Midlands and southern England.
These warnings, last issued before the coronavirus pandemic, have now been extended until midday, having previously been due to expire at 6am this morning.
The British public have now been warned to expect further flooding and transport disruption, with more than 50 flood alerts and a small number of flood warnings issued as the UK’s wet weekend rumbles on.
Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said areas within the amber warning areas could see 20mm of rain, with as much as 50mm over higher ground on Sunday. ‘Still a fair bit of rain to come over the next 24 hours,’ he said.
The Met Office said in the 42 hours running up to 6pm on Saturday, there had been 116mm of rain at Blackpitts Gate in Somerset, and 101mm at Princes Marsh in Hampshire.
Flooding has hit train services in London and Scotland, with services between St Pancras and Finsbury Park being cut as journey times are taking longer due to flooding on the track.
A family of four had to be rescued by firefighters from a road in Billericay, Essex, yesterday after their car became trapped in floodwater, while police issued warnings to drivers after a number of crashes on waterlogged roads.
ScotRail said following yesterday’s bad weather, affected areas will need to be checked first thing this morning to make sure routes are safe for services to run, resulting in some lines being closed.
RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said that road conditions would be ‘miserable if not downright dangerous’ for drivers this weekend. He added that drivers need to be prepared for ‘an ugly mix’ of surface spray, gusty winds and more than likely some disruption on the roads.
A woman was rescued by her husband after driving into four-foot-deep water in Essex this morning while train lines have becomes submerged as Britain is battered by heavy downpours and 90mph gales from Storm Alex.
People walk through rain in Nottingham city centre, as heavy rain lashes parts of the UK with the Met Office issuing warnings not seen since March and persistent downpours expected to bring flooding
People shelter from the rain in Soho, London, ahead of the 10pm curfew imposed during the coronavirus pandemic
People standing in the rain on a night out in Leeds after the Government imposed its 10pm anti-coronavirus curfew
Cars make their way along the M4 motorway near to junction 18, as heavy rain lashes parts of the UK and persistent rain brings flooding with the Met Office issuing warnings not seen since March
People walking through Cambridge braving torrential rain as the UK is battered by weather not seen since March
Cars drive through a flood in north London caused by Storm Alex. The Met Office forecasts heavy rain and windy weather for the rest of the day in the capital, with amber weather warnings in place for parts of England and Scotland
North West Motorway Police tweeted: ‘If you are using the network this afternoon – please slow down. Thankfully this was a damage only RTC.
‘Lots of stand water across the network today. Please allow extra time for your journey.’
Mark Newberry, commercial director at the breakdown cover provider, advised drivers to remain cautious and to ensure that they carried out the appropriate safety checks before travelling anywhere.
While RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said that road conditions will be ‘miserable if not downright dangerous’ for drivers this weekend.
He said they will need to be prepared for ‘an ugly mix’ of surface spray, gusty winds and more than likely some disruption on the roads.
Bookmaker Coral has also made it odds-on, at 4-5, that this October goes on to be the wettest since records began, as the month begins with torrential downpours across the nation.
Coral’s Harry Aitkenhead said: ‘It’s only just begun but we already make this October odds on to enter the record books as the wettest that we have ever had. It’s going to an absolutely soaking few months.’
Additionally, the Met Office has warned that some areas of the country could be hit with flooding, with weather warnings having been issued for large areas of the country.
A damaged car after a collision on the M56 in Cheshire, pictured in a handout photo from North West Motorway Police, as heavy rain is lashing parts of the UK with the Met Office issuing warnings not seen since March
Operational staff work in bad weather to complete the final preparations to the course and The Mall ahead of the historic elite-only Virgin Money London Marathon taking place on a closed-loop circuit around St James’ Park in London tomorrow
People with umbrellas in Nottingham city centre. There are amber weather warnings in place for Wales, the West Midlands, south-west England and also parts of eastern Scotlandyesterday
Three girls sheltering with umbrellas as they walk through Nottingham city centre yesterday, as heavy rain lashes the nation
Four people wearing face masks shelter underneath umbrellas in Nottingham city centre as rain lashes the UK this afternoon
A woman shelters from the rain in a waterproof coat while boarding a bus in Nottingham city centre yesterday
Three brave people run into the sea at Langland Bay in Gower, Swansea, on a gloomy Saturday morning in what is forecast to be a wet and windy weekend in Wales and the rest of the UK
Met Office forecaster Greg Dewhurst said: ‘It is going to be raining and horrible all day. If you have to travel take extra time on your journey, the roads will be pretty treacherous at times with poor visibility due to the heavy rain.’
This follows the damage already inflicted on parts of the UK by Storm Alex on Thursday as trees were trampled.
Police have also warned thrill seekers to keep themselves out of harm’s way as foam is spotted ‘being blown about half a mile inland’ at Perranporth beach in Cornwall.
An officer said: ‘If you’re gonna go out taking photos, videos, put yourself in a safe position to do so. Don’t put yourself in any harm’s way alright because that will mean you’re likely to result in a call out for emergency services.
‘It says something when the foam is being blown about half a mile inland. So it’s pretty rough.’
More than a month’s worth of rain could be recorded in some places after Storm Alex ripped off a school roof and felled trees in Brittany, France.
The National Trust has closed Brownsea Island, famous as one of England’s remaining strongholds for our native red squirrels.
Ground staff clear the waterlogged green on the 18th due to heavy rain during the third round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, North Berwick
Ian Poulter of England and Lee Westwood of England walking to the 3rd tee during the third round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club yesterday in North Berwick, Scotland
England’s Robert Rock on the 18th green during the third round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, North Berwick
Greenkeepers clear water from the 18th green during third round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on October yesterday in North Berwick, Scotland
As the UK is still being battered by the remnants of Storm Alex, visitors to Cambridge brave torrential rain to make the most of the city’s sights yesterday, sheltering under umbrellas while going punting
Cambridge students attempt to shelter from the torrential rain yesterday in the city centre. More than a month’s worth of rain could be recorded in some places after Storm Alex ripped off a school roof and felled trees in Brittany, France
Visitors to Cambridge shelter under umbrellas while visiting the city centre. Bookmaker Coral has also made it odds-on, at 4-5, that this October goes on to be the wettest since records began
Visitors to Cambridge shelter under umbrellas while going punting in the city. The Met Office has warned that some areas of the country could be hit with flooding, with weather warnings having been issued for large areas of the country
Vehicles generate spray as they pass through rainwater accumulated on a roundabout in Maidenhead, Berkshire, as heavy rain is lashing parts of the UK with the Met Office issuing warnings not seen since March
A woman wearing a protective face covering shelters from the rain under a Union flag umbrella outside Buckingham Palace in central London yesterday as downpours bring flooding and travel disruption
A man walks his dog under trees reflected in a puddle after rainfall in Greenwich Park, south-east London this afternoon
Cyclists ride past trees reflected in a puddle after heavy rainfall in Greenwich Park, south-east London yesterday
People shelter from the rain under umbrellas while looking out on the view of the London city skyline during a downpour in Greenwich Park, south-east London this afternoon
People walk under trees reflected in a puddle and shelter under umbrellas after rainfall in Greenwich Park this afternoon
People shelter from the rain under umbrellas and leaves stick to the sodden floor during a downpour in Greenwich Park, south-east London
People looking out at the view of the London city skyline during a downpour at Greenwich Park in London this afternoon
Thousands of visitors travel out to the island in the middle of Poole harbour in Dorset to see the ‘Squirrel Nutkins’ scampering among the pine trees.
With Storm Alex still raging, a National Trust spokesperson said: ‘We’ve made the decision to close the island today.
‘There’s another weather front blowing in and we need to put the safety and comfort of our visitors first. We hope to re-open as normal on Sunday. All those with pre booked tickets will be contacted as soon as possible.’
The opening semi-final of the Vitality Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston has also been delayed due to rain.
The match between Surrey and Gloucestershire was scheduled to begin at 11am but the inclement weather meant proceedings were delayed. An inspection was due at 11am.
The second semi-final, between Nottinghamshire and Lancashire, was due to start at 2.30pm.
Ground staff use the blotter to try and clear the outfield as rain delays the start of play during the T20 Vitality Blast Semi Final match between Surrey and Gloucestershire at Edgbaston yesterday in Birmingham
Ground staff work to clear the outfield as rain delays the start of play during the T20 Vitality Blast Semi Final match
A general view of the covers as rain continues to delay the Vitality Blast T20 Semi Final Match at Edgbaston in Birmingham this afternoon
England’s Eddie Pepperell protects himself from the rain as he walks off the sixth tee during the third round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick
England’s Lee Westwood protects himself from the rain as he walks towards the tenth green during the third round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick
Scotland’s Scott Jamieson shelters under an umbrella on the third tee during the third round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick
New Zealand’s Scott Hend shelters from the rain during the third round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick
England’s Ian Poulter protects himself from the rain on the third tee during the third round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick
Meanwhile, a motorist came within a second of being killed when a huge tree blew over in front of her car.
Joanne Page, 58, was driving home from the hairdressers when the 70ft oak tree came down during Storm Alex. Her car ground to a halt just inches away from trunk of the fallen tree.
The dramatic incident happened A337 near Lymington, Hants, at 10.30am yesterday. She said: ‘A man was driving behind me when it happened. We both got out the car and he asked if I was ok, I said I was fine and he said if I was a second faster I would not be here.
‘It’s extraordinary nobody was hurt.’
Ms Page said she saw the tree falling in front of her just as she approached it on the 40mph road.
She said: ‘I could see the wood splitting and it fell so elegantly. It was quite a majestic fall, I feel privileged to have seen it more than anything. But if my car had been under it, I would have struggled to get out in time. I’m now going to buy a lottery ticket.’
The tree was later cleared from the carriageway by highways officials.
Workers pack away chairs outside a Soho bar last night while passers-by huddle underneath umbrellas as London is hit by rainfall. Green Flag predicts that heavy rain across the weekend could cause a motoring accident every seven seconds
Britons are set to be battered by Storm Alex this weekend with as much as 25-50mm of rain expected to fall, causing flooding in some areas and mass disruption to travel
Britain is bracing itself for Storm Alex to continue its assault as winds of 90mph and intense rainfall look set to batter the country over the weekend. Pictured: Waves crash against the sea wall in Swanage, Devon, yesterday
DORSET: A man walks through waves as they crash along the coast at Swanage in Dorset yesterday morning
DEVON: Large waves crash over the sea wall at Brixham this afternoon as Storm Alex hits the South West of England
KENT: Waves hit the harbour wall in Folkestone this afternoon as parts of the UK experience severe weather conditions
Amazingly, firefighters in Sussex trudged through the pouring rain and mud to put out a blaze in a bush last night.
Somehow, despite being saturated, the undergrowth caught fire at Duke’s Mound, a hilltop beauty spot on Brighton seafront.
As Storm Alex wreaked havoc across the UK, the fire crews found themselves spraying water on the flames which lit up the sky.
Crews from East Sussex Fire and Rescue were called to Duke’s Mound at around 7pm last night and did not pack away their hoses until 9.10pm. They said the fire was ‘deep-seated’ in the rain-soaked bushes, close to Brighton Marina.
Meanwhile, Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Laura Ellam said that the rainfall could prove ‘challenging and disruptive’.
Downpours are forecast every hour for parts of South East England until Monday lunchtime putting hundreds of thousands of families on flood alert, while commuters face a hellish return from work yesterday.
A peak wind gust of 115mph was recorded in Brittany on Thursday night as Alex came ashore over north-western France, which matches the peak UK gust for the Great Storm of 1987 – although the French record is 138mph.
The top speed in the UK yesterday reached 71mph. The storm was named Alex by French forecasters because it originated on the Continent, but it would have been called Aiden if it was named by UK and Irish forecasters.
Foul weather in Essex yesterday as rush hour traffic headed home for the weekend in the pouring rain on the A12 Ingatestone bypass in Essex
A general view as runners in The Macmillan Cancer Support Handicap made their way down the track in misty rain at Ascot Racecourse yesterday
A car was pictured upside down at the side of the road as rush hour traffic headed along the A12 Ingatestone bypass in Essex
An Amber weather warning asks Brits to be aware ‘spray and flooding could lead to difficuly driving conditions’ and some communities may be ‘cut off by flooded roads’
LONDON: A fallen tree blocks traffic on Kingston Hill in South West London in wet and windy conditions this morning
DEVON: Trains continue to travel along the recently-upgraded train line at Dawlish yesterday as Storm Alex hits Britain
SUSSEX: Storm Alex hits Brighton this morning as southern English is place under a weather warning for rain and winds
DORSET: People clean up stones brought in by the sea in Swanage in Dorset yesterday amid the arrival of Storm Alex
CORNWALL: A car crash at Redruth this morning as Devon and Cornwall police described driving conditions as ‘horrendous’
LONDON: People walk across Westminster Bridge in the heavy rain yesterday as severe weather sweeps into parts of Britain
DORSET: The A35 at Dorchester is closed due to flooding after heavy overnight rain from Storm Alex
KENT: Cars drive through the rain yesterday on the M20 in Folkestone as motorists face dangerous conditions in the South East
DORSET: A person watches as waves crash up on the promenade in Swanage which is being protected by sandbags yesterday
LONDON: People walk and cycle through Piccadilly Circus as heavy rain batters the capital this afternoon
DORSET: Waves crash up on the promenade at Swanage during Storm Alex yesterday as southern England is hit by heavy rain
Heavy rain is sweeping across southern England this morning (left) along with strong winds especially on the coast (right)
Widespread power cuts have hit southern England, with Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks recording unplanned outages in more than 20 areas including Portsmouth, Southampton and towns east of Reading.
Western Power Distribution has also recorded incidents in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset. In addition, outages affected nearly 1,230 homes in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire and 550 in Crawley, West Sussex.
Power board engineers were working in increasingly atrocious conditions to restore supplies but with winds increasing in strength, trees were at risk of being blown on to overhead cables.
Runners tackling 26.2 miles of the London Marathon on Sunday are likely to face rain and strong winds. While elite runners will race on a looped course, 45,000 other participants will choose their own route tracked by an app.
But the Met Office does not expect it to be the wettest marathon ever. That record was in 1983 when 0.9in of rain fell in Greenwich, while the windiest was in 1986 when 35mph was recorded at Kew Gardens.
Thursday’s weather warning covers southern counties of England from Cornwall to Kent as well as South Wales and Herefordshire until 8pm. By 8am on Friday, Alex was centred close to the Channel Island of Alderney.
Up to two inches of rain could fall, while gale force winds are set to reach 65mph on exposed coasts and 55mph inland. The Met Office is warning of flooding and ‘dangerous’ driving conditions due to spray and high winds.
In the wake of the storm, a second system is due to bring more heavy rain over the weekend. This has triggered a second set of weather warnings which cover almost all of England, all of Wales and the eastern side of Scotland.
DEVON: A fishing barge has slipped its moorings and ended up on the rocks at the mouth of Brixham Harbour yesterday
DORSET: Workers put sand bags down during Storm Alex in Swanage as the south coast is hit by severe weather conditions
DORSET: A Lamborghini driver makes their way through flood water near exclusive Sandbanks in Dorset this afternoon
LONDON: People in the rain in Uxbridge, West London, this morning as the capital is hit by severe weather
LONDON: Final preparations are made yesterday for the London Marathon which will be on a closed-loop circuit in St James’s Park
DORSET: People watch as waves crash along the coast at Swanage in Dorset this morning and Storm Alex sweeps into Britain
LONDON: People in the rain in Uxbridge, West London, this morning as the Met Office issued a series of weather warnings
LONDON: A fallen tree hit a van and blocked traffic on Kingston Hill in South West London in wet and windy conditions yesterday
LONDON: Joggers and cyclists brave the rain and blustery conditions at Wimbledon Common in South West London yesterday
DORSET: People watch as waves crash along the coast at Swanage in Dorset this morning amid the severe conditions
DEVON: Huge waves hit the sea wall at Dawlish this morning as a train travels along and Storm Alex sweeps into Britain
DORSET: Waves crash along the coast at Swanage this morning as parts of Britain are lashed by heavy rain and high winds
LONDON: Final preparations are made on the route of the 40th London Marathon in the capital this afternoon
DORSET: Waves crash along the coast at Swanage this morning as parts of the UK are lashed by heavy rain and high winds
LONDON: A woman walks through the rain in Westminster yesterday as people take cover from the downpours under umbrellas
DORSET: People watch as waves crash along the coast at Swanage in Dorset this morning
LONDON: A dog walker braves the heavy rain and blustery conditions on Wimbledon Common in South West London yesterday
DORSET: A member of the Coastguard watches as waves crash along the coast at Swanage in Dorset this morning
LONDON: A pedestrian walks across Westminster Bridge in the rain with the London Eye seen in the background this morning
DORSET: Waves crash along the coast at Swanage this morning as Storm Alex sweeps across parts of Britain
LONDON: A woman walks her dog on Hampton Court Bridge in South West London this morning in wet and windy conditions
DORSET: Damage to beach huts on the seafront at Swanage this morning as the area is hit by severe weather conditions
LONDON: A man crosses London Bridge in strong winds and rain with Tower Bridge in the background this morning
LONDON: A pedestrian shelters underneath an umbrella as they walk heavy rain yesterday in Notting Hill, West London
DORSET: The sun rises behind the clouds as waves crash along the coast at Swanage in Dorset this morning
LONDON: People wait at a bus stop in the rain on Westminster Bridge this morning as Storm Alex sweeps into Britain
KENT: A car drives through the rain on the M20 in Folkestone this morning amid atrocious conditions in the South East
** Have you taken any photographs or videos of Storm Alex? Email: [email protected] **
The warnings last from 3am tomorrow until 6pm on Sunday – and include a ‘danger to life’ alert due to the chance of ‘fast-flowing or deep floodwater’.
‘There is a small chance some communities could be cut off,’ the Met Office states. It also said there is also a risk of landslides and ‘very difficult driving conditions’.
Met Office spokesman Bonnie Diamond said: ‘Unusually, the weather system moving in on Saturday is coming from the East, rather than the South West.
‘It means eastern counties which are usually more sheltered will bear the brunt of the system. Over the weekend, some places could see more than the average rainfall for the whole of October.’
The wettest conditions are set to be in eastern Scotland but very heavy rain is also expected on the high ground of Wales and South West England.
SUSSEX: People watch as waves batter the promenade and pier on Brighton seafront this afternoon
LONDON: A pedestrian walks across Westminster Bridge in the rain this morning as their umbrella is blown inside out
DORSET: A small boat is seen on the promenade as waves crash up during Storm Alex in Swanage yesterday
LONDON: A woman named Karime walks through the rain in Westmister this morning as stormy conditions hit the capital
KENT: A Mercedes E220 car drives through the rain on the M20 at Folkestone yesterday as parts of the UK are hit by storms
LONDON: People walk under umbrellas in the rain on Westminster Bridge this morning as Storm Alex arrives in Britain
LONDON: Two women wait in the rain near London Waterloo train station this morning as the capital is hit by a storm yesterday
LONDON: A woman struggles with an umbrella as she crosses London Bridge in strong winds and rain this morning
SUSSEX: Storm Alex hits the coast of Brighton in East Sussex this morning as parts of Britain are lashed by severe weather
LONDON: A pedestrian’s umbrella is blown inside out during the strong winds and rain yesterday at Notting Hill in West London
LONDON: A woman struggles with an umbrella as she crosses London Bridge in strong winds and rain this morning
SCOTLAND: Parts of Scotland are enjoying fine weather yesterday, with the ivy on Liberton Kirk in Edinburgh pictured in the sun
NORTHUMBERLAND: The full harvest moon sets this morning above a row of trees at Old Hartley in Northumberland
NORTH BERWICK: The Harvest Moon sets behind a sign that reads ‘Scotland’ on The Renaissance Club golf course yesterday
FRANCE: The roof of a high school collapsed on a road after Storm Alex struck the coast of French Brittany in Vannes yesterday
FRANCE: A man walks by a collapsed tree this morning after Storm Alex striked the coast of French Brittany in Vannes
Between 4-5in of rain is expected in the worst-hit places, with one to two inches elsewhere. The normal average rainfall for the whole of October is 5in in the UK and 3.8in in England.
What does the weather warning say?
MET OFFICE RAIN AND WIND WARNING
FRIDAY, 3am to 8pm
SOUTHERN ENGLAND AND SOUTH WALES
A spell of wet and windy weather is expected, with potential for flooding and transport disruption.
What to expect:
- Flooding of a few homes and businesses in urbanised areas is likely
- Spray and flooding on roads will make for dangerous driving conditions resulting in longer journey times.
- It’s likely that some coastal routes, sea fronts and coastal communities will be affected by spray and/or large waves
- Delays for high-sided vehicles on exposed routes and bridges likely
- Some delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport are likely
- Some short term loss of power and other services is possible
Rain and showers overnight Thursday into Friday will turn heavier and more persistent during Friday morning, along with a strengthening east to north easterly wind.
Some places could receive 1.6-2in over the course of 12-18 hours, most likely in the south of this region whilst the high ground of southeast Wales could see 2-2.8in in a few spots.
The rainfall will occur with strong winds with gusts of 45-55 mph inland during Friday morning rush hour.
Some coastal regions could experience gusts of 60-65 mph, particularly exposed parts of Devon and Cornwall.
The combination of wind and rain, combined with trees losing their leaves, increases the risk of flooding due to blocked drains and watercourses. With trees still in full leaf for many areas this also increases the risk of debris leading to some power and transport disruption.
The wind and rain will ease from the south, as the weather system responsible starts to move away.
The most significant rain is due tomorrow before turning more showery on Sunday but some places could still see heavy downpours.
Chief meteorologist at the Met Office, Steve Ramsdale described the forecast as a ‘miserable end to the working week’ and warned of gales before another band of wet weather arrives for larger swathes of the country.
He added: ‘As the strong winds and rain associated with Storm Alex clear away from Britain later on Friday, another low-pressure system moves towards the UK from the east bringing further very heavy rain and strong winds to many over the weekend.’
The Met Office’s concerns were echoed by the Environment Agency, which said: ‘Heavy rain will bring the potential for surface water flooding and perhaps some river flooding across the south of England on Friday.
‘More widespread and persistent heavy rain across much of England will bring the potential for further river and surface water flooding over the weekend.
‘We urge people to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive though flood water, it is often deeper than it looks and just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car.’
Miss Diamond added: ‘On Monday it is due to become a little less unsettled and windy. There is still due to be a chance of showers but it certainly won’t be as wet. The weather is due to stay unsettled into next week.’
And RAC breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘Heavy rain will make road conditions miserable if not downright dangerous for drivers this weekend, and they’ll need to be prepared for an ugly mix of surface spray, gusty winds and more than likely some disruption on the roads.
‘Floods are also a possibility so drivers should remember never to attempt to drive through water unless they know for sure that it’s shallow enough. For drivers who are unlucky enough to breakdown in the horrid conditions, our patrols will be working around the clock to get them moving again.’
Looking further ahead, the Met Office said unsettled weather is forecast to continue until the middle of the month.
Its forecast states: ‘An unsettled picture is likely for this period, with all parts of the country seeing showery spells as well as times of more prolonged rainfall.
‘Southern and western areas are expected to see the worst of these conditions with the most frequent and heaviest rainfall. Drier and calmer conditions could be seen at times, but likely only for short interludes.
‘Largely windy for most of the country during this period, with a risk of gales at times, particularly along western and south-western coasts. Overall, it is likely to feel rather cold.’
A drier spell, with the chance of sunny days but fog and frost by night, is not expected until the second half of the coming month.
** Have you taken any photographs or videos of Storm Alex? Email: [email protected] **
How the Great Storm of 1987 claimed 18 lives, flattened 15million trees, caused damage costing £1.5billion and saw Michael Fish lampooned forevermore
The Great Storm of 1987 battered England and Wales, leaving 18 people dead and causing £1.5billion worth of damage to the economy.
In the early hours of October 16 winds peaked at 115mph, damaging buildings and felling 15million trees in the south east of England.
Millions of homes were left without power for at least a few hours, with some having no electricity for days as trees fell on power lines, disrupting supplies.
Whilst most of England and Wales experienced wet and windy weather that night, it was southern and eastern parts of England that were worst hit. A ship capsized at Dover, and a Channel ferry was driven ashore near Folkestone.
Damage in London after the Great Storm of 1987 which left 18 people dead and causing £1.5billion worth of damage to the economy
Planes were turned upside down at Stapleford Abbotts airfield near Epping in Essex during the Great Storm of October 1987
Veteran weatherman Michael Fish bore the brunt for famously telling the nation there was no hurricane in the offing, just hours before it arrived.
At the time Mr Fish told viewers tuning into the broadcast: ‘Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way; well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t, but having said that, actually, the weather will become very windy, but most of the strong winds, incidentally, will be down over Spain and across into France.’
But in 2011, one of his former colleagues finally stepped forward to take the blame for the Met Office’s botched forecast.
Bill Giles, who was chief forecaster at the time, admitted that he was in fact responsible for the lunchtime broadcast on October 15 in 1987.
A Sealink ferry was forced onto dry land by the extreme winds that hit England and Wales in October 1987
It was the worst storm since 1703 and a public enquiry was announced shortly after the storm and an internal enquiry was conducted by the Met Office.
The official forecaster wrote: ‘We now know that the strength of the storm was boosted by a phenomenon known as the ‘Sting Jet’, where cold dry air descends into storms high in the atmosphere.
‘Rain or snow falling into this jet of air evaporates and cools the air further, adding more energy which translates into stronger winds. By the time this ‘sting in the tail’ reaches the ground it can produce winds of 100mph which are concentrated over a small area.
‘In 1987, no-one knew sting jets even existed, but now they are well understood and included in forecast models. The storm which affected Scotland in December 2011 was boosted by a sting jet, explaining the maximum gust speed of 164mph recorded on top of Cairngorm.’