October 23 2014 Latest news:
by DAVID FREEZER
Monday, October 15, 2012
There are not many people who were able to take something positive from the October 1987 storm, but Claire Sayer is still feeling the benefit.
When it struck her family’s home in Acle, Mrs Sayer was just eight years old. Despite her tender years she remembers the storm clearly, as it sparked her keen interest in the weather.
Now aged 33 and still not living too far from Acle, in Freethorpe, Mrs Sayer is studying an introduction to meteorology course with the Open University.
Mrs Sayer said: “I was only eight but I can remember clearly sitting with my parents and watching the weather forecast and Michael Fish saying there wasn’t going to be a hurricane, and ever since I’ve had a really big interest in the weather.
“Even though I was young I wondered how they knew what the weather was going to be. So my friends have always laughed at me because when there is a storm, they head inside and I head outside.
“Then last year my husband bought me a weather station for the side of the house.”
Of course BBC weatherman Michael Fish bore the brunt of a lot of people’s anger following the storm, after playing down fears of a serious storm.
He famously said in a lunchtime broadcast the day before the storm: “Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way; well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t.
“But having said that, actually, the weather will become very windy, but most of the strong winds, incidentally, will be down over Spain and across into France.”
Colleagues at the Met Office have since shared the blame for getting it wrong, as the worst storm to hit south-east England in over 300 years then followed the broadcast.
Mr Fish was unlucky, however, as he was talking about a different storm system over the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean that day.
The official Met Office case study of the day says: “This storm, he (Fish) said, would not reach the British Isles - and it didn’t. It was the rapidly deepening depression from the Bay of Biscay which struck.
“This storm wasn’t officially a hurricane as it did not originate in the tropics - but it was certainly exceptional. In the Beaufort scale of wind force, Hurricane Force (Force 12) is defined as a wind of 64 knots or more, sustained over a period of at least 10 minutes.
“Gusts, which are comparatively short-lived (but cause a lot of destruction) are not taken into account. By this definition, Hurricane Force winds occurred locally but were not widespread.”
But the extreme weather and much-talked about weather broadcast had done enough to tweak the interest of a young Mrs Sayer.
She continued: “I remember the forecast, although it was mis-forecast, and then the next day all hell broke out. There were posts blown over and tiles off my school (Acle Primary School) roof had been blown down, it was total devastation.
“But in my mind I was thinking ‘I wonder why this has happened?’.
“And now, because I live in the countryside, I love studying clouds and I’m always outside looking up at the sky.
“I often put my little forecasts on Facebook and my colleagues often laugh at me, and it was all triggered from that day in 1987.”
- Share your photos, videos and memories with us at www.iwitness24.co.uk and watch out for much more of our coverage of the storm’s 25th anniversary throughout this week.
- To see many more photos of the 1987 storm, as well as how the shocking news was reported in the EDP and Evening News at the time, see the links at the top-right of this page.