Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's Not a Hurricane!

I've recently been reading about hurricane Gonzalo which apparently is about to batter the United Kingdom with 70-80mph winds.  It looks like this time people have had a proper warning about what's coming, although the weather maps pretty much look like a normal British summer

This looks normal for this time of year
Which brought me to thinking about that infamous 'hurricane' of 1987.  One of the most famous bloopers ever, if you ask me.  I'm not sure Michael Fish has lived it down to this day.  "There's not a hurricane coming..."  Famous last words and all that.


October 15, 1987 it was.  I saw the weather forecast that night and obviously didn't think anything about it at all.  Since when does England have hurricanes and anyway, we lived in London.  Not much can go wrong there, surely.  Off to bed we went and at some time in the night I was woken up by empty coke cans bouncing down the street.  I didn't bother to get up to see what it was, I just thought it was a bit windy and someone had left an empty can in the road.  How rude!

The next morning rolled around and I wandered into the kitchen to make a cuppa and looked out into the garden.  Well, that was a surprise, I wasn't only looking into the garden, but across the road and down the street too.  My fence was completely gone.  Neighbours were wandering around as if in a daze and I walked out my front door to see the road completely littered with broken roof tiles.  (It apparently wasn't Coke cans I had heard, but roof tiles hitting the floor).  Surprisingly, and much to my relief, not a single tile had landed on our car and how that happened I will never know.  The weirdest thing and something I remember to this day was our big, burley builder neighbour from across the road asking us if we had "lost a bunny" as he was cradling a little white fluffy bundle in his arms - bless.  I never did find out who that rabbit belonged to, or if he had kept it himself - he did seem to be quite taken with it though!

We were actually quite lucky with only having a bit of damage.  Not so, for many other people.  19 died and it was classed as the worst ever storm to hit the south east of England for 300 years. 

They used to be caravans
And poor Michael Fish?  Well, he's still going strong and still works for the Met office.  In later years, he says there was never actually a "woman" who rang the station, but it will still go down in history as a big Ooopsie!  

And there is now a "Michael effect" in weatherman circles whereby British weathermen are now inclined to predict "a worst-case scenario in order to avoid being caught out" [Wikipedia]

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