Extreme weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office and The Environment Agency has given 24 flood alerts, ahead of this coming weekend. With predicted gales gusting up to 90mph, the storm is said to be the worst since the infamous one in 1987, when hapless weatherman Michael Fish assured viewers that there would be no hurricanes. The rest, of course, was history.
The extreme weather front is currently located in the Gulf of Mexico, but is expected to move across the Atlantic and head towards the UK over the next couple of days, before hitting the South West coast on Sunday.
Jonathan Powell, of Vantage Weather Services, said: “This is a very brutal weather system. A repeat of 1987 is highly likely.”
And the Environment Agency issued a statement: “Heavy rainfall early Friday morning is likely to lead to some river response across Cornwall and Devon.”
The UK has experienced heavy rainfall this week, and river levels have risen, prompting several flood alerts to be in place already, across the South and East.
But a spokeswoman for the Met Office warned that although they could not predict just how severe the impact of the weather system approaching from the Gulf of Mexico would be, people should be prepared. Nicky Maxey said: “It is still early to be 100 per cent accurate, but people should expect stormy conditions through the weekend and into next week.”
And former BBC weatherman Michael Fish agreed: “It looks like being very stormy.”
Whilst some weather experts were prepared to go even further. Vantage Weather Services’ Jonathan Powell said: “This is possibly going to be the worst storm we have seen for a very long time. A repeat of 1987 is highly likely. The impact of this could be absolutely devastating and people should really prepare for a very severe storm. Coastal regions are in for gusts of more than 90mph, well into hurricane force, with 70 and 80mph widely likely inland.”
And Leon Brown, forecaster for The Weather Channel, has warned of possible structural damage: “We continue to monitor developments very closely for this coming Monday. The storm in question, which we have named Saint Jude, is currently a minor disturbance over the Gulf of Mexico which will propagate eastwards and become caught in a ferocious jet stream currently off the eastern seaboard of the US,” he added:
“Wind speeds in the jet stream are likely to reach as much as 200mph this weekend – typically it’s around 100mph over the Atlantic. The exact development and track is still uncertain, but it looks most likely to cross central or southern Britain during Monday, but could yet move further north or south. These winds may bring down trees and cause structural damage, so batten down the hatches.”
The Great Storm caused over £1 billion worth of damage, killed 18 people, destroyed 15 million trees and left thousands without power, hit the UK on October 15 and 16 in 1987.