St Jude's Day Storm: Worst weather since the Great Storm of 1987 as UK braces for hurricane-strength winds and torrential downpours
With winds of 80-90mph and up to 30mm of rain forecast the RAC has warned motorists against all but essential travel in torrential rain and floods
A powerful weather system developing over the Atlantic could see Britain battered tonight with some of the worst weather conditions since the Great Storm of 1987, forecasters are predicting.
The weather system, dubbed the St Jude's Day Storm - named after the patron saint of depression and lost causes, whose feast day is Monday - is expected to reach the south coast of England on Sunday night and into Monday, bringing exceptionally strong winds.
It could develop winds hitting 12 on the Beaufort Scale - the strength of a hurricane.
Winds of more than 80mph could leave a trail of destruction across a large swathe of the UK, bringing down trees and causing widespread structural damage, leading to power cuts and transport chaos tomorrow morning.
Insurance companies have advised households to take steps to protect themselves and their property.
People should also establish evacuation plans, place valuable items upstairs to limit flood damage and ensure gutters are clear so water can drain away.
I recall the 1987 storm. It was followed by a stock market downturn.
What a wild day that was... I was living with my parents at the time, I slept through the storm itself but was woken early in the morning by my father who wanted a torch because the power was out and he wanted to shave.
One of my brothers went to the car to get a torch and when he turned on the radio (to listen to a BBC radio station) he heard a message saying that they were broadcasting using emergency battery power as a storm had knocked out the mains power supply.
I went with my father to work, on a route which took us through east London (by car). He said that the "street litter" reminded him of what he used to see in London during the Blitz.
Near deserted streets, tree branches, roof tiles, damaged brickwork everywhere...
Some people on an express train from London to Gatwick Airport which is to the south of London spent the night on the train because fallen trees had blocked the line. Fortunately their train was not hit by a falling tree. In all 19 people were killed, which may sound a lot but many people saw as an absolute miracle given the extent of the damage to the whole of southern England. Had that storm struck during the daytime when people were not tucked up at home in bed then the death toll would likely have been much higher (although the people killed when trees crashed on to and through their roofs may have still been alive today.)
Then there were the storms of January 1990; these were not as severe but still did much damage.
Near where I worked a modern corrugated metal wall building had its outer skin ripped off exposing the fibreglass insulation and the metal framework to which the inner and outer metal skins had been bolted. The company which used that building had to use its emergency exit as the main door, as the outer skin that had been ripped off was blowing in the wind right next to their main entrance and had it hit someone it would have sliced through them as easily as a warm knife in soft butter. At least in 1990 the electricity stayed on (within London - I no longer remember about country areas). Fewer trees came down in 1990, since by then they were no longer in leaf.
There were no computers, no smartphones, no Twitter etc in those days, but I had a 35mm camera and so am able to share a few photos of the fallen trees in my local park.
Fallen trees in my local park after the great storm of October 1987 and winter gales of January 1990.