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England and Wales brace for ‘significant’ St Jude storm

The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning for 80mph (120kph) gusts across much of Southern Britain as forecasters warn the approaching St Jude Storm was not one "you would see every year".

The storm is likely to bring 60mph gusts to parts of South Wales, Southern England, the Midlands, the East, London and the South East, with the potential for 80 mph winds on exposed coastlines in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent. There is a likelihood for local power outages, the uprooting of trees, widespread transport disruption and some structural damage. Some gusts could be similar in strength to those experienced in March 2008 and January 2007.

A Met Office yellow warning to “be aware” of heavy rain has been issued to all regions with the exception of London and the East of England. Up to 40mm (1.6ins) of rain may fall within a six-hour period in these regions, which could lead to localised flooding and local travel disruption.

Most likely track of St Jude across Monday morning (C) Met Office

Most likely track of St Jude across Monday morning (C) Met Office

Forecasts suggest the low pressure system will deepen to the south west of the UK tonight, moving across the country and leaving the British Isles by Monday afternoon. Although predictions remain somewhat provisional at this moment, the peak of the storm is predicted to be in the early hours of Monday morning (3am to 7am). According to The Telegraph the storm has been named after patron saint of lost causes whose feast date is on Monday, St Jude.

We are confident that a severe storm will affect Britain on Sunday night and Monday. We are now looking at refining the details about which areas will see the strongest winds and the heaviest rain. – Frank Saunders, the chief forecasters at the Met Office.

Mr Williams, a Met Office spokesperson told The Independent that “these storms usually develop much further out in the Atlantic, so when they come over the UK they are in the declining phase and decrease in strength”. It is unusual for such a storm to still be in its most powerful phase whilst passing across the UK. Forecasters have suggested warm air close to the UK and a particularly strong jet stream have both contributed to its development and strength.

Despite the predictions, the storm is unlikely to match the ‘Great Storm of 1987’, which was famously dismissed by veteran weatherman Michael Fish. 22 people died across England and France as forests were flattened and the power knocked off. The Great Storm, as its sometimes called, caused more than £1.5 billion worth of damage, felling over 15 million tress; even the National Grid sustained heavy damage, plunging much of the country into darkness. Predicted winds of 80mph for St Jude fall short of the 120mph winds recorded during the infamous 1987 storm, so the consequences are unlikely to match those experienced 26 years ago.

A policeman surveys the damage on a London road caused by the 1987 storm (C) The Telegraph

A policeman surveys the damage on a London road caused by the 1987 storm (C) The Telegraph

Whilst the wind speed of St Jude may be near those experienced during a hurricane (expected to reach hurricane force 12 on the Beaufort scale), the approaching storm is not classified as a hurricane despite the ‘hurricane-strength winds’. Hurricanes are restricted to the low latitudes, drawing energy from seas warmer than 26 degrees Celsius. It’s particularly unusual for the seas around the British Isles the reach anywhere near those temperatures, especially a few days before the beginning of November. St Jude, who will affect much of the south of the country is a mid-latitude storm; it’s common for these storms to dominate our weather patterns throughout the autumn and winter. Low pressure storms tend to form by the meeting of air masses at the polar front at a similar latitude to that of the UK.

The Met Office is advising people to stay up to date with the forecasts and warnings that may be issued over the next 36 hours. Two Brittany Ferry services have today been cancelled between Plymouth and Roscoff because of the forecast. The Metropolitan Police is urging the public to use its 101 number during the storm, using 999 only when there is a “genuine emergency”. The AA is expecting a greater number of call outs from motorists, particularly during the Monday morning rush hour, and is stressing to only travel on Sunday evening if the journey is absolutely necessary.

Keep up to date with the storm and weather warnings via the BBC’s weather service, the Met Office, and the Environment Agency. See your local BBC radio station for up to the minute travel news in your area, and see the Highways Agency or Traffic Wales websites. Additionally follow the progress of the storm on Twitter by following @GeoJamesBlog using #UKstorm and #GeoJamesBlog.


—- Updated at 14:20 on Sunday 27th October 2013 —-

The Met Office has this afternoon updated their predictions on the impending St Jude storm. The most likely track during Monday sees the low pressure weather system cut through parts of South Wales, the Midlands before reaching the North Sea. The Met Office have now also predicted when parts of the south coast will experience the strongest winds. Cornwall and Devon will experience the hurricane force 12 gales in the very early hours of Monday (01:00 – 07:00), with Hampshire and part of central southern England affected during the rush hour period (05:00 – 10:00), whilst the south East will experience the strongest winds during late morning (08:00-10:00).

Latest predictions of the path the storm may take and the arrival times across the country (C) Met Office

Latest predictions of the path the storm may take and the arrival times across the country (C) Met Office

Many rail operators are expecting to run a limited service on Monday morning, with disruption mainly in the southern counties. National Rail are urging passengers to check with their operator before they travel. Heathrow and Gatwick airports have also advised passengers to check with their airline before travelling as delays will be expected during the early hours.

About James Cosgrove (27 Articles)
22 • Welsh • BSc Geography & Geology • MSc Applied Meteorology graduate - University of Reading

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. St Jude Storm: Four confirmed dead | GeoJamesBlog
  2. GeoJames 2013: The year in review | GeoJamesBlog

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