NOSTALGIA: The most devastating storm in nearly 300 years

THIS WEEK IN 1993: Portsmouth teenager killed in knife fight

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Thirty years ago tomorrow morning the chatter in workplaces across this area was all about the weather.

Business as usual then, thanks to our national obsession with all things meteorological.

It was not only trees which were uprooted, heres a dead phone box in Copnor Road, Copnor, Portsmouth.

It was not only trees which were uprooted, heres a dead phone box in Copnor Road, Copnor, Portsmouth.

Except October 16, 1987, was a whole lot different. Unique, in fact.

For we were all picking up the pieces, literally, left in the wake of what most of us called, inaccurately, a hurricane.

The Great Storm of 1987, to give it its official title, was the most devastating severe weather event to hit this country since 1703.

It has gone down in history and will obviously be remembered for Michael Fish’s now famous television broadcast.

For those of us who lived through that terrifying night of October15/16, what happened in south-east Hampshire was bad enough and there was widespread disruption for days.

But we were lucky compared to what happened in East Sussex and Kent.

The storm killed 22 people in the south-east, uprooted an estimated 15 million trees and caused £1bn damage.

The lack of preparation against the Great Storm was viewed as a result of poor communication.

In reality, it was down to the lack of technological development in that era and some of the advances since 1987 are remarkable.

For instance:

•The typical smartphone of today has (at least) five times more processing power than the Met Office’s ‘super computer’ of 1987

•The Met Office’s new super computer processes 14,000 trillion pieces of data per second – the one of 1987 was only capable of performing four million calculations per second

•In 1987, very few observations were received by satellites. Today, 215 billion observations are recorded per day alone

•Instead of a single forecast, the Met Office now makes 36 daily forecasts to provide more accurate estimates of the risk of high impact weather events

Met Office meteorologist and senior presenter Alex Deakin says: ‘In 1987 people received their forecasts either via newspapers or at fixed times on TV and radio.

‘Now more than 90 per cent of adults consult forecasts via social media, websites or mobile apps.

‘A forecast is now available whenever you want and information about coming storms can be accessed in seconds.’

He adds: ‘We can’t say we won’t see another storm like 1987’s, but we are now able to forecast better and warn of severe weather,’