BBC Earth (Asia) - - Front Page - WORDS BY DUN­CAN GEERE

In Oc­to­ber 1987, the Great Storm wreaked havoc across the south of the UK, tak­ing ev­ery­one

by sur­prise. Now, 31 years on, why do we still have trou­ble pre­dict­ing the weather?

On the morn­ing of 16 Oc­to­ber 1987, south­ern Eng­land woke to a scene of dev­as­ta­tion. Eigh­teen peo­ple were dead, and thou­sands of homes were with­out power. Fif­teen mil­lion trees had fallen across the coun­try, ir­repara­bly chang­ing the land­scape and block­ing roads and rail­ways. In Folke­stone, a 110-me­tre Sealink ferry was dis­cov­ered ma­rooned on the beach. A pier on the Isle of Wight was al­most to­tally de­mol­ished. The cul­prit was the Great Storm of 1987, as it be­came known. Form­ing in the Bay of Bis­cay north of Spain and sweep­ing up across the coun­try, it brought gusts of up to 185km/h (115mph) and sus­tained winds of more than 80km/h (50mph) across the south-east. The pas­sage of the storm’s warm front in­creased tem­per­a­tures by up to 10°C, while baro­met­ric pres­sure fell to 951 mil­libars. It was the worst storm to have hit south­ern Eng­land and northern France in al­most 300 years.

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