Britain is bracing itself today as meteorologists warn of a megastorm on its way to batter its shores. Millions of people are being told to stay inside their homes and not risk going out, as predicted winds of 80 miles an hour and heavy rains will hit the South West corner, moving on and up over the whole island during the course of Sunday night and into Monday morning. It is expected that there will be severe disruption, possible power cuts, and damage to buildings and trees. The storm has been given the name, St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.
Storm St. Jude is currently lurking out in the Atlantic in an area of low pressure, said to be “deepening and developing” by the BBC weather presenter, Nick Miller. Comparisons are inevitably being drawn with the now infamous weatherman’s predictions prior to the Great Storm of 1987. This catastrophic weather event was dismissed by the then leading authority on the BBC, Michael Fish, when he reassured viewers there was “not a hurricane on its way.” There was. The country woke to devastation wrought by the worst storm in 300 years.
Michael Fish is once again putting his reputation on the line by going on record as saying he does not think this approaching storm will be as serious. Miller, less certain, is hedging his bets, and has said there are still “uncertainties” as to how fast the wind speeds will accrue. In 1987 they reached speeds of 115 mph.
British coastal regions are in line to face the worst of the battering by the megastorm, specifically Cornwall, Devon, East and West Sussex and the county of Kent. Kent was severely hit by the Great Storm of ’87 when the town of Sevenoaks, named for its ancient and beautiful trees, lost six of the mighty oaks, uprooted overnight.
An amber warning has been issued by the Met Office, indicating the potential severity of the megastorm, and Prime Minister David Cameron is chairing an emergency meeting to lay in place plans to protect the population, should widespread damage occur. Flash flooding is extremely likely, and could cause immense disruption to the Monday morning rush hour traffic. Insurers, worried about claims in the light of massive floods in recent years, advise householders to batten down the hatches and make sure their properties are secure. Between 20 to 40 mm of rain is anticipated within a six to nine hour window. Storm-watchers are strongly cautioned to keep well away from dangerous spots like quaysides and jetties, where breaking waves can easily sweep people out to sea.
Britons are told to keep mobile phones charged, and to have provisions in place in case of power cuts, including a torch and a radio. With the late Autumn and the trees still in full leaf, the danger of them toppling is very great, this is exacerbated by the damp ground, which does not fully support the root systems. The Metropolitan Police have asked that anyone is trouble does not dial the emergency number 999, as they expect to be inundated with calls. They have put out another number, 101, for all matters that are not dire emergencies.
The people of Great Britain wait with bated breath to see how bad this megastorm is going to be, as it picks up force on its way to batter them.
Written by: Kate Henderson