The weather forecast was wrong, again!

The weather forecast was wrong, again!

25 years ago today a hurricane hit the UK without warning. What happened?

On 15th October 1987 BBC weatherman Michael Fish laughed off the idea that a hurricane was heading for the UK.

Twenty-four hours later, winds of 121 miles per hour had been recorded. Southern England was in tatters.

It was the worst storm to hit England since the Great Storm of 1703 which saw many ships sunk, including the Royal Navy's HMS Restoration with 387 people aboard.

BBC News coverage of the storm, including Michael Fish's infamous weather forecast

What is a hurricane?

A hurricane is a huge, spinning system of clouds, storms and wind that forms over warm water and can cause a massive amount of damage.  When they strike land they can be one of the worst kinds of natural disaster.

How do they form?

When the ocean surface is warm it heats the air above it, which rises to form huge clouds. The air pressure close to the surface of the sea drops, so more air rushes in to fill the gap.  This causes powerful winds.  Instead of blowing straight into the middle of the new storm, the wind turns and blows in a circle around the centre, or "eye" of the storm.

How dangerous are hurricanes?

In the UK we are very lucky because hurricanes are very rare here.  They normally travel west across the Atlantic Ocean, so the Caribbean and southern parts of the USA are much more likely to be hit by hurricanes at this time of year.  People in those parts of the world are given lots of warning if a hurricane might be coming and are told what to do to stay safe.  Even so, hurricanes are very destructive and in the worst storms many people have been hurt or killed.

What should we do if a hurricane or powerful storm hits?

Here are a few of the things children in schools in Florida, USA, get told to do during hurricanes:

  • Stay indoors - most people who get hurt in storms are outside at the time
  • Stay away from the sea and rivers - storms caused large and powerful waves, and rivers get filled very quickly by heavy rain and can burst their banks onto roads, fields and gardens
  • Have a battery-powered radio and a torch so that if the power stops working you can still see and find out what is happening
  • Make sure you have some clean, bottled water and food in case it takes a while before you can leave the house

If you want to know more about hurricanes you can visit the Weather Wiz Kids website by clicking here.

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