The recent storms in UK have caused plenty of problems and rekindled memories of “The Great Storm of 1987”. Many reading this will not remember that, but to me they are two entirely different animals. The 1987 storm came right out of the blue, remembering Michael Fish’s “it’s not going to happen” weather forecast just the previous day. And whereas this year’s storm has been a prolonged spell of scattered storms, 1987 was one intense night.
I was living in Chalk Hill, West End as a student, around three miles from the university. Though I had tried cycling in a few times, I had given up and was happier walking in after a few near-misses (Pedantic Note: really they should be termed ‘near-hits’ since they were actual misses) from drivers on narrower than desired roads. I slept through the night of “The Great Storm of 1987” while the rest of the house heard it all, hanging on to their proverbial worry beads (not a euphemism, I hasten to add). In the morning, I turned on my radio, absolutely oblivious to the news I was about to hear. My housemate had a class at 9, while my first was at 11. He set off on his bike and, given the tone of the radio news, I fully expected him to return a few minutes later. When (disappointingly) he didn’t, it was clear that it was possible to get in to the university. I set off and was amazed at the devastation, how many trees and fences had been felled, a sight that I didn’t see again until walking in the last week of 2013. In the evening, we set out into a local wood with our big choppers and collected fuel for our open log fire.
And that was it. A really intense storm in one night. Really wind, but no rain. This recent storm has been prolonged, no one night as bad as in 1987, but the cumulative effect of a number of rough days is at least as bad. Flooding has been more an issue this time and the fact that it is at Christmas does bring greater heartache and difficulty in finding skilled persons to give up time with their families. Yesterday’s walk in particular brought home to me the extent of the damage with overflowing drains aplenty and trees still strewn across pavements, some days after their fall.
You have to feel for all who have been affected. Happy New Year to you all.