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The Great Storm of 16 October 1987

Dr Andy Russell
Lecturer in Climate Change at Brunel University

Michael Fish
Batten down the hatches, there's some extremely stormy weather on the way
Michael Fish

On the night of 15 October 1987 one of the strongest UK storms ever recorded passed over Kent.

At the time, this storm was the strongest seen in the UK in over 280 years.

It left 22 people dead and the UK insurance industry facing £1.4bn in claims. Had the storm passed over in the daytime then these figures would no doubt have been higher.

While it is often referred to as a "hurricane", it did not meet the meteorological criteria set out for this category of storm.

That said, the winds did reach hurricane force and it was the winds that caused most of the damage.

The Hengist. Photo by Karen Mills
The Hengist passenger ferry was washed ashore near Folkestone

Millions of trees were blown down, power lines were destroyed, roads and train lines were blocked and ships were capsized.

The storm will, of course, always be remembered for Michael Fish's infamous forecast.

However, subsequent analysis of the storm has shown that an accurate forecast would have required detailed knowledge of the upper-levels of the atmosphere over the Western Atlantic - something that was not available at the time.

Maybe it is time to forgive and forget!

You can see a Wild Weather special programme on BBC South East on Monday 20th September at 19.30 on BBC1.

Hottest dayHottest Day 38.5Faversham on 10th August 2003
Windiest dayWindiest Day 108 mphLangdon Bay on 16th October 1987


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