The Gathering Storm

Twenty-six years ago I was living in Brighton as a graduate student at the University of Sussex. On October 16th 1987 (a Friday) I woke up to find the electricity had been cut off. Without breakfast, I left the house come up to campus, only t to find the street lined with fallen trees, smashed cars and houses with broken windows. This was the Great Storm of 1987 which, according to weather forecaster Michael Fish, was “not a hurricane” and I had slept through the whole thing…

I didn’t make it up to campus that Friday. The trains weren’t running because there was no electricity, power lines having been brought down by the storm, and even if there had been electricity the trains couldn’t have run because the tracks were blocked by fallen trees. When I did make it up to campus several days later the trees on the hills either side of the campus had been combed flat. It took years for them to recover. I hope they don’t suffer the same fate this time.

Here’s the infamous weather forecast broadcast on the Thursday evening

Another storm is forecast to arrive tomorrow; here is the Shipping Forecast for sea area Wight which, includes the town of Brighton and areas to the West.


The adjacent sea area, Dover, to the East is just as bad. Evidently it’s not a good day to be messing about in boats. This lunchtime I took a walk along the beach at Brighton to see how bad it was. The wind direction was  from the southwest and I estimated it was about force 7, based on the fact that it nearly blew me over when I turned into it. Not quite a gale, but getting there. A violent storm force 11 is bad enough, but there is a chance of hurricane force 12. That could cause damage on the scale of 1987. I’m now looking very nervously at the scaffolding covering several buildings in my street..

Here are some pictures I took with my phone looking towards the Marina.

IMG-20131027-00193 IMG-20131027-00194 IMG-20131027-00195

And here, in the opposite direction,  is Brighton Pier. There was so much salt spray from the breaking waves that I found hard to keep the lens clear, but the Pier was still open for the usual amusements…


These are just the preliminaries, though. The bulk of the storm is yet to hit us. Something tells me we’re in for a stormy night!

3 Responses to “The Gathering Storm”

  1. […] A blog about the Universe, and all that surrounds it « The Gathering Storm […]

  2. Have you read ‘Rumours of a Hurricane’ by Tim Lott? Apparently, for the years leading up to the great storm, we in the UK had shovelled money into houses and conservatories…which ended up being damaged, and so the financial impact of the ‘hurricane’ was more severe than it might otherwise have been.

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