30th Anniversary of the 1987 Storm
While the ‘Great Storm’ of 15 and 16 October 1987 is still one of the most talked about weather events in living memory it was also a wake-up call for the Met Office and other organisations. It helped identify gaps in severe weather forecasting capability and highlighted the need for better communication with partner organisations such as emergency services and the public in general.
Bringing wind gusts in excess of 100 mph the storm resulted in the loss of 22 lives, around £1 billion worth of damage and there was widespread disruption across southern England. It has gone down in history as one of the worst UK storms since 1703 and will obviously be remembered for Michael Fish’s now famous television broadcast.
Over the last 30 years there have been many major developments and changes in the way weather forecasts are produced. There have also been changes in how they are communicated and therefore in how people respond.
Met Office meteorologist and Senior Presenter Alex Deakin said: “In 1987 people received their forecasts either via newspapers or at fixed times on TV and radio. Now over 90% of adults consult forecasts via social media, websites or mobile apps. A forecast is now available whenever you want and information about up and coming storms can be accessed in seconds.”
Forecasting the development and behaviour of this type of storm remains challenging, however the resolution (the spacing between grid points) of our global computer model is now 10 km compared to 150 km in 1987 and our UK model is 1.5 km compared to 75 km. This is crucial to successfully predicting where and how the weather will impact the UK.
These improvements, together with better observations mean we are now able to provide earlier and more accurate forecasts and warnings of this type of storm. Our four day forecast is now as accurate as our one day forecast was at the time of the Great Storm.
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