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The great storm of October 1987


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Posted
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    Well its the 20th anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987 coming up in a couple of weeks, I remember the absolute quiet and unseasonal warmness of the previous evening and the feeling that something just wasn't right.

    I spent all night up watching a neighbours chimney pot swaying in the wind and I was certain it was going to fall directly into my bedroom. The next day was utter chaos and it took almost an hour to travel the 4 miles across Eastbourne so I could get to work. Hampden Park was completely devastated with almost every single tree down. I wonder if Eastbourne resident Michael Fish, has any memories of that event!

    Feel free to add your personal recollections or anecdotal charts, data etc.

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    Posted
  • Location: Leigh On Sea - Essex & Tornado Alley
  • Location: Leigh On Sea - Essex & Tornado Alley

    Remember it really well, was a Thursday night into the Friday Morning. Incredible destruction in Essex, we maxed out at 127 mph gust at 339am in Shoeburyness. I was 15 years old just 7 days before the Storm (Not Hurricane) and remember my Paper round was cancelled from the Newsagent, then the school informed us it would be shut until the Monday 19th October! Happy days as we had already had over a week off in the January of that year due to 20 foot drifts of Snow. GOD I loved the year of 1987 :lol: :D

    Paul S

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    Posted
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
  • Weather Preferences: Anything
  • Location: Ashford, Kent

    I remember it getting increasingly windy during the evening, I kept looking out the window, I just knew something was wrong out there, a bad feeling in my gut.

    We all went to bed listening to the howling gale outside, when the tiles started blowing off the roof we all sheltered together in my sisters room, really scared. After a while we had to go to the loo so we all crept downstairs together and took it in turns, I will never forget looking out the window seeing the fir trees out the front almost horizontal in the wind. I knew then it was really serious.

    In the morning the whole garden was a mess, we lost a greenhouse and several trees including a huge ancient apple tree. The whole area was littered with straw, a 400 year old barn was lost up the road loosing it's load of straw for miles around.

    One of the fir trees out the front was sitting at a jaunty angle but survived, only to topple over in the bad storms of Jan 90.

    What a night!

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    Posted
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    And just to clear up the Michael Fish controversy (as 1. he might be reading this and 2. I pass his residence regularly and he might want to throw something at me from up on high) Wikipedia quotes as follows:

    'BBC meteorologist Michael Fish drew sharp criticism for reporting several hours before the storm hit, in seemingly flippant fashion: "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". In fact his comments about a hurricane had nothing to do with the UK; they referred to Florida, USA, and were linked to a news story that immediately preceded the weather bulletin, but have been so widely misreported that the British public remain convinced they referred to the approaching storm. According to Michael Fish, the woman in question was actually a colleague's mother who was about to go on holiday in the Caribbean and had called regarding Hurricane Floyd to see if it would be safe to travel.

    Fish went on to warn viewers in the UK to "batten down the hatches", saying it would be "very windy" across the south of England, but predicted that the storm would move further south along the English Channel and the British mainland would escape the worst effects. The remainder of his warning is frequently left out of re-runs which only adds to the public's misrepresentation of his forecasting that evening.

    His analysis has been defended by weather experts. In particular, the lack of a weather ship in the southwest of England, due to Met Office cutbacks, meant the only manner of tracking the storm was by using satellite data (automatic buoys had not been invented at the time). The storm was also a highly unusual occurrence and therefore very difficult to predict. Even if Fish had been talking about the approaching storm, he would still have been technically correct in his statement, as the storm of 1987 was neither tropical or post-tropical in nature, and therefore could not possibly be a hurricane.'

    That forecast!

    Edited by Coast
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    Posted
  • Location: North Norfolk
  • Location: North Norfolk

    I was living just east of Southampton at the time. I remember sitting in bed hearing the wind build about 10pm. A bit later we lost the power. As I was still living at home (just about to turn 20) and had the next day off work, I decided to stay up and reset the alarm when the power came on again so I could wake mum up as she had work. We got power back about 30 min later so I thought everything was all right. About 15 min later we lost power again and were then without it until about mid day on the Sunday.

    I sat in bed watching my large bedroom window flex with the wind and hearing fences come down. I could see what I thought were distant flashes of lightning but I assume they must have been power lines shorting out. I remember going downstairs that the wind of the noise being so loud that my mum didn't hear me coming downstairs and we frightened the life out of each other as neither of us knew the other was up.

    In the morning we came out to survey the damage. We'd come off pretty lightly with just a fence panel or two broken by falling branches of the trres form the neighbour's garden and half the foor of the shed flipped over the other half like a book, At first we thought we'd lost it totally but looking closer we could see what had happened.

    With no power on the Friday evening I remember playing cards by candlelight and listening to Nick Girdler's show on Radio Solent with people phoning in and sharing their 'storm stories'.

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    Posted
  • Location: Heyshott, West Sussex
  • Location: Heyshott, West Sussex

    I remember it absolutely as if it were yesterday. I was just 18 in my last year at school and we lived on the top of Portsdown hill overlooking Portchester (near Portsmouth) and the Solent - rather exposed I guess. I specifically remember the forecast and thought it was over the top that someone called about a hurricane (how ironic in hindsight!)

    From about 9 pm the wind started to get up. The house was well built but one gust (around 10 pm) seemed almost to flex the walls. I was in a spare bedroom studying I think for mock A levels and remember this being something extreme even at that time. We often were exposed to gales up there but this one seemed to keep building.

    I went to bed around 11 pm with the wind still howling but still not exceptional. I then remember waking up at around 1 am with the most constant roar I'd ever heard, like an ongoing gust with no let up. I couldn't sleep from then until the morning. The bedroom windows upstairs were six foot double glazed sliding patio doors that opened up onto a balcony that wrapped round the house.

    I walked into my sister's room (she was at uni at the time) that faced the solent and could see it flex and bow several inches at the middle - thinking that at any minute this is going to shatter so I then went back to my room and hid under my covers. I then put the radio on and can't remember if I was listening at local or national news but then heard the reports starting to come in - basically of an increasing picture of widespread distruction. Nothing I'd ever heard of before. First there was reports of firecrew crushed by a tree, then eventually I was sure I heard the declaration of a regional disaster zone (I may have imagined that bit!)

    Finally at about 3 am the radio went off although we still had power - crackle so maybe the broadcast antennas were struggling at that time.

    By morning it was relatively calm and amazingly there was no damage to the house or the grounds wheras our neighbour lost 18 trees. I was at school in Portsmouth and could drive at that point, so more for 'the adventure' than anything else decided to try to get there by car. Immediately I had to go via a tortuous detour and could not believe the scale of the destruction. I saw plate glass shop windows shattered all over the road. I had to drive around a beach hut sitting in the middle of the coast road. At the Southsea sea front I couldn't see one tree standing and there were countless cars crushed under fallen trees. I had to go past one of the piers and saw bigger than bullet size holes in the glass veranda ceiling and only worked out what it must be when I saw similar holes in the windows of a single seater coach parked close by - I guessed it was pebbles being picked off the beach and thrown through the glass.

    What I saw next was amazing... a set of traffic lights nearly bent horizontal to the road. At this point it struck me what the full force of this wind must have been like in the early hours and thank god it was then and not the middle of the day.

    Finally, after negotiating a flooded part of Southsea common, I managed to get to school. I think those who managed to get there stayed there for about an hour to do damage checks on the building and then were allowed home.

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    Posted
  • Location: Near Matlock, Derbyshire
  • Location: Near Matlock, Derbyshire

    I don't remember a huge amount from that night/early morning here, being only 8 years old at the time. My most vivid memory was waking up that morning and looking out of the window to see virtually every tree that was on the farm that we lived on at the time had been felled. Many tiles had been felled from the house and outbuildings, and the cow shed had literally blown away, it had totally gone (parts of the tin from the shed were found around the village later on!)

    In Suffolk as a whole, there was widespread damage and devastation to vast areas of woodlands. Even today the scars remain, and it will be many, many years yet before the woodlands have grown back to their former glory. The wind was so strong it blew the sea out, and high tide was virtually none existant apparantly!

    We lost power here for almost 2 weeks, that coming after losing power for over a week in the severe wintry spell in January 1987. I loved that year, and thats what really kick started my obsession with the weather. Since then the climate has been milder, maybe thats my doing. :lol:

    My main regret is that I didn't make weather observations then, I started them a year later.

    A photo gallery is available on the BBC Suffolk website:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/suffolk/content/image...7_gallery.shtml

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    Posted
  • Location: Hampshire Snow Hoper
  • Location: Hampshire Snow Hoper

    i lived on top of a hill near sevenoks in kent it was terrifying i lost the back part of the roof and the wind was trying to lift the lot the next day the scene from the window was jaw dropping just nothing where trees had been.we were cut off for 10 days and once i ventured round the local area of the weald ect the full extent of the disaster became apparent,a day i shall never forget thats for sure

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    Posted
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

    tks for the archive newspaper cuttings Mr D.

    I went on duty at RAF Valley Anglesey at 6am that morning. Flat calm there , which is pretty unusual, with few charts available as the main office at Bracknell had lost most power output for a time. Scores of 'Top Priority' signals copied to me as S Met O from the RAF answering calls for help.

    I had an interesting chat on the telephone with Ian McCaskill who was the senior forecaster on at London Weather Centre that night and was left on duty until mid morning as his relief could not get in, as happened with a lot of people in many jobs that morning.

    The Met O had a seminar that followed to try and work out what had happened and why it developed so explosively and why it took the track it did. Meteorologists from various European countries took part. I've written about it before so will not repeat it here. As the chart Mr D posted amongst his Times copies shows the carnage was restricted to areas generally south of the Wash to Bristol Channel. Notice how 'open' the isobars are north of there.

    Edited by johnholmes
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    Posted
  • Location: South Pole
  • Location: South Pole

    I was living in south-west London at the time and that night is one of the few times I have been truly terrified. I absolutely hated it. I could hear the chimney rattling on the roof above our bedroom for seemingly hours on end. I stayed glued to my sheets and never once was going to go to the window to see what was happening.

    Edited by Nick H
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    Posted
  • Location: Ash Brake, N. Swindon
  • Location: Ash Brake, N. Swindon
    I was living in south-west London at the time and that night is one of the few times I have been truly terrified. I absolutely hated it. I could hear the chimney rattling on the roof above our bedroom for seemingly hours on end. I stayed glued to my sheets and never once was going to go to the window to see what was happening.

    I was at Southampton University and was playing poker all night i remember it being a bit windy but my room was sheltered from the wind so we did not hear it much. Next day i didn't get up until lunchtime and went to a 2.00pm lecture and was mildly surprised to see all the damage!!

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    Posted
  • Location: South Norwood, London
  • Weather Preferences: Snowy Cold Winters & Warm Dry Summers
  • Location: South Norwood, London

    I was 17 at the time and had a job at my local supermarket. I worked until 8Pm that evening and it just so happened that whilst collecting the shopping trolleys from across the road I had managed to hit the kerb with my chain of trolleys and the lead one flew off into the main shop front window making a loud cracking sound as the corner of the trolley punched a small hole in it and the glass cracked from the top to the bottom. The pane was easily 8 x 12 feet probably bigger. A glazier came around 9pm and put a small sheet of glass over the hole with the intention of replacing it in the morning and as I left the wind started to get a little gusty then and I thought that it didn't bode well for the shop window.

    Being a young teen boy I had a restless night and in the early hours of the morning the full force of the storm woke me up so I decided to take a walk. I really wish I had taken my video camera and in similar conditions I certainly wouldn't have gone out this day and age but it was amazing at the time feeling the sheer strength of the wind around me. Everywhere there were trees down and debris strewn over the road. I must have wandered around for an hour or so until a branch (probably a twig) hit me and I thought maybe it wasn't such a good idea to be out so I headed home.

    The following day I headed into work and the damage was unreal. I remember going over the railway crossing and looking down the track at some 20 fir trees laying directly across the track all the way down along the edge of the park (they were big enough to stretch across both railway tracks and into the gardens on the other side of the tracks).

    I got to work and wasn't suprised to see the window that I broke had been blown all over the high street. The only good news was that the shop claimed storm damage on the insurance instead of trolley boy incompetence.

    Yep, I have very good memories of that day.

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    Posted
  • Location: Western Isle of Wight
  • Weather Preferences: Snow, Storm, anything loud and dramatic.
  • Location: Western Isle of Wight

    I was 22 living at Reculver near Herne Bay Kent, I had moved there for work.

    Besides seeing the best thunderstorm ever in Kent, I also saw my best weather event ever and had my best train ride ever, hows that? :unknw:

    I got home from work at 1130 ish as I was working shifts at Sittingbourne, I hated factory work! Went to bed and awoke at 2 in the morning, all hell had broke loose, trees were blowing blown in front of me as I looked through the window and the wind was high and constant, what a buzz. The next day I took 36 shots, sadly I lost them with an ex girlfriend... The whole place was smashed up slightly, IE the buildings were standing but lots of tiles were off and 40%-50% of all mature trees were smashed or blown over where I was, the worst storm damage I have seen by far. It took 9 days before I was able to catch a train to Cheshire. That railway journey was the best railway journey of my life up to now, because of the mayhem and the sight of so many people tidying up, the devastation was most noticeable in the trees for me, I have always loved them, they were blown to bits, I have since learned that nature soon recovers and storm are in fact good for wildlife. Anyway I love the bad weather because of that storm and that train ride was something else :drinks: Its because of that storm I got interested in conservation and eventually became a forest manager b/w :good:

    I did not see the M Fish forecast at the time as I was hard at work. I know it was for the wrong reasons but Mr Fish will be remembered well and for a long time because of it, in the end I bet the Gods even laughed...

    Kind regards,

    Russ

    Edited by Rustynailer
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    Posted
  • Location: Haverhill Suffolk UK
  • Weather Preferences: Thunderstorms, Squall Lines, Storm Force Winds & Extreme Weather!
  • Location: Haverhill Suffolk UK
    In Suffolk as a whole, there was widespread damage and devastation to vast areas of woodlands.

    Good thread this :) Enjoyable reading all the posts from NW members experiences of the 1987 storm.

    I was only 8 at the time too Paul, but do have fond memories of this storm. Weather was my main interest from a very young age, I remember telling my mum and dad (They were gardening at the time) there's a storm on the way and its going to be really bad! :D They still remind me of that now along with other quotes (Apparently when i was 2, winter 1981 when I lived in Chelmsford, I just stood by the living room window repeatedly saying no no, mummy it's no..ing) LOL :) I was drawing my own weather maps at 4 years old through to about 10yrs. I still have them now in my loft with my recordings lol, there's a whole box full of weather stuff :lol: Im going off on one here, sorry folk :)

    Back to the storm...... :)

    What an incredible evening and night. I remember sitting in the dinning room early evening (The only TV we had that had Teletext) frequently checking the latest weather reports and if there were any updated weather warnings. I remember going to bed late evening looking out my bedroom window one last time and seeing nothing special regarding winds. They were getting up, but nothing strong.

    All my family (Mum, dad, brother (6) were woke up at 2am by this unprecidented/extreme/not your normal gust of wind. I remember seeing my parents faces, concerned and worried :) From then on in the gusts just became more and more frequent til about 4/5am when it was an almost constant roar outside. I can recall it just getting light(Dawn) and looking out my bedroom window and seeing fence panels/trees/green houses all destroyed/vanished. The one incident I will never forget and always sticks in my mind when Oct '87 is mentioned/talked about was when I saw my parents shed roof rip off and blow away :) literally. We never did find it again. I remember my dad walking around and knocking on all houses nearby to see if it had blown in there garden. (That afternoon)

    I felt really sorry for my parents at the time, because they had only moved to Haverhill that May. They ended up having to have all new fences put in, new roof tiles, conifers, greenhouse, smashed windscreen on car. etc

    I'll never forget that roar in my lifetime! The only thing that has come close to reminding me of Storm '87 was the tornado that ripped through Haverhill in January. Those brief seconds in January bought back unnerving memories.

    If only I had been a bit older when the 'Hurricane' hit, I may have filmed something or driven out the next day to get some photos for memory. :(

    Mammatus

    Edited by Mammatus
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    Posted
  • Location: Mansfield, Notts 123m ASL
  • Location: Mansfield, Notts 123m ASL

    A brilliant personal account written by a Southsea Policeman of the events of that night whilst on duty.

    As we opened a bedroom door and shone a torch into the room I saw the woman, clinging by her fingertips to a windowsill. Her husband was in a similar position at another window. They looked like a couple of cartoon characters being hung from those ancient wall rings! We shone the torch towards the floor. There wasn't one. It had gone

    ...

    He pointed towards a large Oak tree positioned on the edge of Milton Park. It was visibly shaking at its base. Then, like a Saturn 5 rocket, it took off, slowly being pulled from the ground, taking the footpath and attached fencing with it. After it left the ground it seemed to be tossed around like a matchstick before being flung into the park. "Sod this, I'm off'. I slammed the car into reverse and got far enough away from the trees as possible.

    LINK

    http://www.hants.gov.uk/hchs/storm_sw.html

    Edited by sconetone
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    Posted
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
  • Weather Preferences: Any Extreme
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield

    Believe or not My Sister and Brother in Law who lived then in High Wycombe were having there windows replaced over two days. This storm fell slap bang in the middle of the storm. Did they get any damage. No. Despite only having Polythene as Windows they slept right through it. My Brother got up in the morning and set off to work only to find roads closed everywhere. He gave up and returned home rather stunned.

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    Posted
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks
  • Location: just south of Doncaster, Sth Yorks

    I have learnt something new again.

    I never knew there was a strike by French meteorologists on the day, or rather the day before the storm. I was part of the official investigation into the reason for the storm being as severe and its track, and that 'fact' was never spoken of. So I have doubts about it. Indeed I wonder if Michael actually said that or is it another mis quote from the press.

    If Michael logs on to this I would be interested to hear your comment Michael?

    Edited by johnholmes
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    Posted
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    And Michael Fish is still being misquoted: CLICKY

    However on a different note, they did at least concede:

    'Forecasting techniques have improved greatly since October 16, 1987, when hurricane-force winds swept across southern England. Although computers are much more powerful, weather patterns better understood and warning systems far more sophisticated than they were in 1987, weather researchers say that further improvements are required.'

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    Posted
  • Location: Near Beverley, East Yorks. (2 metres a.s.l.)
  • Weather Preferences: Something good in all four seasons
  • Location: Near Beverley, East Yorks. (2 metres a.s.l.)

    Interesting to read the stories about the great storm.

    I remember it well .. being in Northants at the time and undertaking

    a very 'hairy' early morning, 20 mile drive to my archaeological

    excavation job. I don't think I've ever worried about looking UP while

    driving like that before, so scared of falling trees and cables and

    flying debris of quite some size !

    Of course got to work .. helped tie down a workers caravan .. and

    was promptly sent back home for safety, lol.

    Btw, it's amazing to me, after 20 yrs to find out for the first time the

    truth about Michael Fish's comments on the 'hurricane' !!

    The facts had escaped me, like so many others it seems.

    I shall enjoy the rest of the info. here and the ITV prog. on it all

    on Tues. at 9pm.

    Cheers,

    BL. x

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    Posted
  • Location: Hayward’s Heath - home, Brighton/East Grinstead - work.
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and storms
  • Location: Hayward’s Heath - home, Brighton/East Grinstead - work.

    I sadly missed the great storm of 1987 as I lived in Liverpool at the time. I remember waking up and hearing all the reports on the radio but sadly( and luckily) the reports that the storm was heading our way proved to be untrue. We had no more than a gentle breeze!!

    Later I have been lucky enough to be given the met office chart from 0600 on the 16th with signed autographed photos of the original met office team!!! I am going to try to upload photos I have of this . Perhaps John Holmes would be good enough if he comes across this thread to reminisce and confirm that the pencil isobar scrawling is how they used to draw the charts back then.

    Ed

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    Posted
  • Location: Warminster, Wiltshire
  • Location: Warminster, Wiltshire
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    I know John Kettley (is a weatherman, a weatherman, a weatherman ;) ), Ian McAskill, Michael Fish and Bill Giles, but who's the one on the bottom right?

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