WILL WE EVER BE ABLE TO FORECAST THE WEATHER?
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.