St Jude Storm Blows Grid Off Course

St Jude Storm winds touching nearly 100 mph bring death and destruction to south-east England leaving up to 850,000 homes without electricity in October 2013.

Also known as Cyclone Christian, the storm was a huge low pressure depression that struck the UK on 27 and 28 October 2013 before crossing the North Sea to affect other parts of Europe.

Its origins were a depression off the east coast of the United States which headed east thanks to a strong jet stream, gaining energy from the remnants of an ex-tropical storm.

The storm blew across the Atlantic Ocean quickly at an average speed of 48 mph, covering 2,000 km (1,240 miles) in just over a day.

Meteorological improvements made since the infamous Great Storm of 1987 saw the Met Office issue weather warnings for stormy winds and heavy rain for much of Britain well in advance.

At St Jude Storm’s peak in the UK, gusts of 99 mph were recorded on the Isle of Wight. On the mainland winds reached top speeds of approximately 75 mph.

The storm’s pressure dropped even more as it headed across the North Sea. This resulted in the fastest ever recorded winds in Denmark (120.8 mph).

Comparing The St Jude Storm With The Great Storm Of 1987

Great Storm of 1987St Jude Storm of 2013
Total Damage£1.4 billion£0.5 billion
Trees Destroyed15 million10 million
Deaths185
Maximum Wind Speed115 mph99 mph

The St Jude Storm led to millions of trees being brought down, which caused huge damage as they fell onto buildings, cars and power lines.

Five people died in the UK. A couple were killed in an explosion caused by a tree falling on a gas mains, while other falling trees killed a man in a car and a 17-year-old girl living in a caravan in Kent. A 14-year-old boy also died after being swept out to sea.

Apart from the odd isolated incident, structural damage was mainly limited to roofs, cladding and windows. A helter-skelter did, however, topple over in the seaside resort of Clacton.

Insurance companies paid out half a billion pounds in compensation to policyholders whose homes, businesses and vehicles were damaged.

While the storm caused chaos to the transport network. Around 130 flights from Heathrow were cancelled, with train services across the south of England hampered due to safety concerns.

Trees blocked several roads, while the key port of Dover in Kent closed with ferries crossing the channel stopped.

St Jude Storm’s Impact On The Electricity Network

Inevitably, the worst storm to hit Britain in more than a decade had a major effect on the nation’s power grid. Trees knocked out power lines, particularly in counties such as Essex, Suffolk, Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hertfordshire.

In total it is thought that 850,000 homes across the country were without electricity at some point during the storm. Most had supplies restored within a day with 1,000 engineers – six times the usual number on duty – working around the clock to carry out repairs.

According to distribution network operator UK Power Networks, around 15,000 properties were still without power by the Wednesday. Amazingly, considering the scale of the storm, only approximately 3,100 homes hadn’t had electricity restored by Friday 1 November.

National Grid estimated that 2,000 MW of wind power was lost during the storm. Turbines were shut down during the high winds as a safety precaution.

While debris falling onto power lines forced the Dungeness B nuclear power plant in Kent to close down both its reactors.

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