On This Day: Burns Day Storm 1990

Image: Highest gusts of over 60 knots (69 mph) recorded on 25 January 1990 (Source: Met Office)

On 25th January 1990 - otherwise known as Burns Day to the Scots, the day marking the birthday of their national poet, Robert Burns - an intense depression tracked across southern Scotland bringing severe gales and storm force winds to many parts of England and Wales.

The strong winds affected a much larger area than the Great Storm of 1987, were comparable or higher in speed (particularly over southern England and Wales) and struck during the daytime, resulting in more deaths and injuries.  The strongest winds occurred during the late morning and afternoon, with hourly mean speeds in excess of 46 mph across a large part of southern England and Wales, and over 58 mph at exposed places along the coast. Gusts of over 92 mph were reported along coasts in west Wales and from Cornwall to Kent, with the highest gusts measuring 107 mph at Aberporth in west Wales and Gwennap Head in Cornwall. 

Consequently, 47 lives were lost. There were disruptions to telecommunications lines and power supplies, leaving more than half a million people without electricity.  Transport systems were disrupted, particularly roads due fallen trees and overturned vehicles, but also railways, airports and shipping ports. Many buildings were damaged, especially houses across central and southern England and Wales. Yet fewer trees were blown down than in the 1987 storm, when 15 million were damaged as they were still in leaf.