So You Think That Was Bad?


As icy winds blast New England and snow blankets Massachusetts, our recent dustings of snow don’t seem too bad.

In case you missed the news, here is a quick recap on Winter Storm Juno, which is busy wreaking havoc on the United State’s western coast.

Juno rolled in early on Monday morning. Six states immediately reported heavy snow — it’s still falling, actually. Persistent blizzard conditions in the worst hit areas are still rendering driving with any semblance of safety impossible. Public transport is frozen solid in many cities — not literally, thankfully. Powerful gusts have ripped apart the electricity infrastructure. Severe flooding has caused extensive damage to communities in coastal locations..

It’s all very dramatic.

That got us thinking, how bad has it got at home? What are the worst storms that Britain has weathered?

Burns’ Day Storm / Daria (1990)

Cast your minds back to early 1990. The Berlin Wall was creaking, the World Wide Web was almost one year old and there was an innocuous-looking cold front hanging over the North Atlantic Ocean.

By the 25th that innocuous cold front had migrated west and made landfall over Ireland. The extratropical storm surge, known as Daria or the Burns’ Day Storm, brought incredibly violent winds that ripped through Ireland, Scotland, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Daria recorded sustained wind speeds of 75 miles per hour across Europe and isolated gusts topped out at over 100 miles per hour. An estimated three million trees were uprooted and half a million people were left without power.

Total estimated cost:  £2 billion

The Great Storm (1987)

In the days before the Great Storm landed there was little warning of its approach. Funding cuts had meant there were no meteorological ships positioned in the Atlantic to warn of the quickly building cyclone. As such, weather forecaster Michael Fish felt confident enough to appease the worries of his audience, saying:

“Earlier on today apparently a woman rang the BBC and said she heard that there was a hurricane on the way. Well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t.”

When the weather system, 87J, arrived, it proved to be the most severe windstorm recorded by the Royal Meteorological Society in almost three hundred years. Hurricane-force winds tore through the UK, with overnight wind speeds topping 110 miles per hour. In France, the winds were more severe with stations in Brittany recording 134 mile per hour gusts.

15 million trees were forcefully uprooted, the London Fire Brigade alone answered 6,000 calls and every single road in Hampshire was closed.

In Britain, hundreds of thousands of homes lost power. In France, that number ballooned to 1.79 million. Some homes had to wait for weeks for power to be restored.

Total estimated cost: £1.2 billion

The 2013 Storm / St. Jude / Cyclone Christian (2013)

The 2013 Storm, which goes by a number of other names across Europe, battered Britain only a few months ago. Hurricane-force winds were both widespread and persistent — weather stations across Britain recorded regular gusts of over 80 miles per hour and Denmark recorded the strongest wind in the country’s history — 120.8 miles per hour..

The storm initially developed in the southwest before surging north over the Bristol channel in the early hours of 28th October. Powered by a powerful jet stream, high winds surged the length of Britain and into Northern Europe. Most damage was caused by felled trees and severe flooding. Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes and 600,000 homes were without power.

Total estimated cost: £TBC