Big storms compared: 1987 and 2013

The storm that battered parts of the UK on Sunday night and the early hours of Monday was one of the most powerful to hit Britain in recent years, with a maximum gust of nearly 100mph recorded in the Isle of Wight.

Four people were killed and about 600,000 suffered power cuts as the storm tore its way across the country. But how did it compare with the infamous Great Storm of 16 October 1987?

1987 and 2013 storms compared
1987 Top 5 gust speeds: Shoreham-On-Sea - 115 mph, Langdon Bay, Kent - 107 mph, Thorney Island, W Sussex - 104 mph, Herstmonceux, E Sussex - 104 mph, Shoeburyness, Essex - 100 mph.  2013 Top 5 gust speeds: Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight - 99mph, Langdon Bay, Kent - 82 mph, Isle of Portland, Dorset - 81 mph, Andrewsfield, Essex - 79 mph, Odiham, Hampshire - 78 mph

The 2013 storm developed to the south west of the UK on Sunday before tracking into the Bristol Channel in the early hours of Monday 28 October. Driven by a powerful jet stream, the storm passed across the Midlands and into the North Sea as the morning progressed.

Midnight
Weather 2am
Four AM
Six AM
Seven AM
Forecast showing wind and rain over the UK at 09:00 Forecast showing wind and rain over the UK at 09:00

The 1987 storm began as a small disturbance along a cold front in the Bay of Biscay, just north of Spain, which quickly deepened into an area of very low pressure. As in 2013, a particularly strong jet stream contributed towards its rapid progression.

Storms in numbers

The 1987 storm is one the most severe the UK has suffered in recent decades.

OTHER MAJOR UK STORMS

1952 Lynmouth, Devon: 34 killed and 100 buildings destroyed by flooding

1953 'North Sea Flood': More than 300 killed by major storm surge in Lincolnshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk

1968 Hurricane force winds hit central Scotland causing 20 deaths and destroying 300 houses

1990 'Burns Day Storm' results in 47 deaths and major damage across England, Wales and southern Scotland

2007 Winter storm 'Kyrill' brings high winds and flooding, causing 11 deaths in the UK and 47 in Europe

The last storm of a similar magnitude occurred in 1703, and wind speeds in locations such as Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, were the highest ever recorded.

The loss of trees and woodland in southern England was particularly acute, with an estimated 15 million trees destroyed.

There were some positives, however, as the storm cleared many old and decaying trees.

A massive tree-planting programme was begun to replace the lost woodland, with the destruction of managed coniferous forest allowing some areas to be replanted with traditional native species.

In another unforeseen consequence, a number of wild boar also escaped captivity during the storm and went on to successfully breed in the wild, helping to re-introduce the species to the UK after a gap of 400 years.

Fallen trees in London streets, 1987 and 2013 Some 15 million trees were uprooted in the 1987 storm; far fewer fell this year, but some caused disruption.

Famous forecast

BBC weatherman Michael Fish famously failed to predict the severity of the 1987 storm, but other factors, including the lack of a weather ship in the Bay of Biscay, were identified by risk analysts Risk Management Solutions as contributing to the UK being caught by surprise. In contrast, the BBC's Nick Miller on 25 October warned this year's storm would "pack quite a punch".

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