The Burns Day Storm of 1990


The 1990 Burns Day Depression

Few recall much of the ferociousness  of the Burns Day Storm of 1990 yet in many places the winds were comparable to or higher than The Great Storm of 1987. Once again the action started out in the Atlantic on 23th of January with the formation of a depression and an associated cold front.  By the 24th it had deepened and had started moving rapidly towards Ireland where it struck on the morning of 25th killing 17 people in its path.  The depression deepened further eventually reaching 953 millibars and rapidly moved across the Irish Sea to Scotland. It then raced across Ayrshire and the southern part of the country and out into the North Sea killing 19 in the Netherlands and finally reaching Denmark later in the day where a further 30 people died.

The area of the storm was greater than the 1987 event affecting much of Northern Europe but once again it was in the southern part of Britain where the winds were the strongest.  All along the south coast from West Wales and Cornwall to Kent gusts of 80 knots (92 MPH) or more battered the shoreline.  The strongest of these at 93 knots (107 MPH) were recorded at both Aberporth in Wales and Gwennap Head in Cornwall but the highest mean hourly wind of 64 knots (74 MPH) was measured at the other end of the country at Sheerness in Kent, the speed of a category one hurricane.

PeterClifton (2)

Peter Clifton, chairman of the Cousley Wood Cricket Club, examines the damage after the Burns Day Storm

Being winter the trees were bare so the damage to them in Wadhurst was nothing like as great as in 1987 .  However the force of the wind further damaged the Cousley Wood Cricket Pavilion, which had lost its roof in 1987,  and it was now reduced to little more than rubble eventually being rebuilt some years later.

Nationwide 3 million trees were destroyed, the South and West suffered flooding and there was widespread damage to buildings right across the country.  The cost to the insurance industry was the largest ever in the UK amounting to £3.37 billion and, probably due to the large area affected but also because the storm struck during the day, the death toll was much higher than in 1987.  Sadly, in Britain 47  people lost their lives, largely caused by collapsing buildings and falling debris, making it the worst British weather related tragedy since the floods of 1953.

The storm was classified as one of the worst ten to have ever affected Britain,