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The St Jude Storm

October 28, 2013

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


  1. October 28, 2013 5:16 pm

    Why is wind speed measured in mph, knots, kmph, mps, also Beaufort scale and has a specific description for each? Why can’t we all use one measurement?

    • November 3, 2013 4:29 pm

      One often wonders about that. It would be so much simpler if there was one scale. At least some of the measurements can be easily converted using a computer program.

  2. October 28, 2013 6:21 pm

    Anyone know why the storm is named St Jude?

    Apparently the MO don’t know!

    The simplest explanation seems to be that Sunday was the feast of St Jude.

    Anyway it doesn’t seem to be official.

    Whoever did use the name first is probably feeling pretty smug now!

    • Billy Liar permalink
      October 29, 2013 2:11 pm

      I thought St Jude was the patron saint for global warming.

      From Wikipedia:

      Thus the title, ‘The Saint for the Hopeless and the Despaired’. St. Bridget of Sweden & St. Bernard had visions from God asking each to accept St. Jude as ‘The Patron Saint of the Impossible’.

  3. A C Osborn permalink
    October 28, 2013 7:17 pm

    Don’t confuse the BBC, MSM and Met Office with facts, this was MEGA, SUPER, WORST IN A CENTURY, WORST IN TWO CENTURIES, APOCALYPTIC and UNPRECEDENTED.

    Except it wasn’t, it was over hyped as usual, as anything to do with Climate and Weather is.
    Isn’t it really sad that with all the other things going on in the world, like for instance the deaths in Russia from their unreported snow storm, that this got so much hype.

    • October 28, 2013 8:21 pm

      I don’t think it was the BBC or the MO who made any of those exaggerated claims.
      AFAIK it was the “gutter press”.

  4. roger permalink
    October 28, 2013 8:22 pm

    According to the BBC One Show this evening (don’t ask), the Met with their new super computer were able to predict this a week ago, producing a screen shot from………… last friday !

    • October 28, 2013 8:47 pm

      The MO may have predicted it a week ago but I don’t think the warnings were issued until Friday.
      They tend to be a bit hesitant to issue warnings until they are absolutely certain.
      Now that it’s happened, they are crowing about forecasting it but they weren’t prepared to commit themselves, unlike the Daily Express/Vantage Weather, who were talking about it on the 22nd. although they were a bit over the top with talk of “Storm of the Century”.

  5. stephen permalink
    October 28, 2013 8:54 pm

    The Daily Mail gust map is not representative. E.g. Needles Old Battery at Isle of Wight is a station on top of a high cliff over the sea, measuring the gusts as the sea wind burst over the hill-top.
    Gusts were 55 to 70 knots on mainland southern England today. On 25th Jan 1990 they were 70 to 90 knots over a larger area. Even higher peaks in 87J – 15 million trees down, that storm took down forests, not trees. The October 2002 was similar strength and larger area than today’s storm.
    BBC News just declared it was the worst storm in southern England since 1987. Wrong.

    It was a rare storm in Denmark this afternoon.

  6. October 28, 2013 11:51 pm

    Reblogged this on CraigM350.

  7. October 29, 2013 9:55 am

    There was an item on last night’s “Newsnight” which seemed to give all of the credit to the MO for forecasting the storm, with no mention of the Express or other forecasters.


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