Fallen, broken tree in a park. Credit: RenegadeStudio

Storm St Jude batters the UK

27 October 2013 18:00 UTC–28 October 09:30 UTC

Fallen, broken tree in a park. Credit: RenegadeStudio
Fallen, broken tree in a park. Credit: RenegadeStudio

At least 15 people died when Storm St Jude (Christian) tracked across the UK and parts of Western Europe.

Last Updated

05 May 2023

Published on

27 October 2013

The Airmass RGB animation (below) shows a massive outbreak of cold air over the eastern Atlantic causing the strong development of a depression over western Europe, resulting in violent winds.

At least three people were reported to have died when storm St Jude hit parts of the UK in the early hours of 28 October. Gusts of 159km/h (99mph) were recorded on the Needles, Isle of Wight as the storm swept west to east across Southern England, the Midlands and parts of South Wales. Otterbourne in Hampshire recorded 50mm of rain in a few hours.

Travel was disrupted as uprooted trees fell on to railways tracks and power lines and numerous flights were cancelled or delayed.

The storm (named Christian in other countries) then tracked across parts of Western Europe, killing at least 13; blowing down hundreds of trees; damaging properties and disrupting travel.

Figure 1: White cold frontal cloud band.

In the animation (Figure 1) the white cold frontal cloud band of the storm can be seen extending from south-western England across the Channel in to the Gulf of Biscay and beyond. The red colour in its rear marks a very strong intrusion of dry stratospheric air that gave rise to the heavy precipitation and winds where the cold front was passing.

Storm St Jude batters the UK
Figure 2: WV6.2 image with ASCAT winds overlaid. Credit: EUMeTrain

The WV6.2 image with ASCAT winds overlaid (Figure 2) shows the winds as they were increasing in strength off the south west coast of England on 27 October.

Both the Met Office and KNMI started issuing warnings about the storm well in advance. On 27 October KNMI upped their warnings to a code red weather alert for the western half of the country for gusts of more 100km/h (62mph). On 28 October in Vlieland the hourly average wind speed measured 10 km/h (65mph) — the highest hourly average wind speed in the Netherlands since 1990. The strongest gust recorded was 151km/h (94mph) in the Wadden Sea area.

In the UK the Met Office started issuing warnings about the coming severe storm on 24 October. The highest recorded gust was 159km/h (99mph) on the Isle of Wight and more than 50mm of rainfall in Otterbourne.

Met Office Chief Forecaster, Nick Grahame, said: "Forecast models were predicting the St Jude's Day storm well in advance and indicating that development would involve an interaction between some very warm air originating from east of Florida and the mid-latitude jetstream. So, with this in mind, the monitoring of visible and IR satellite imagery was crucial in verifying these early stages of development against subsequent model forecasts.

"As the weather system began to approach NW Europe, much use was made of the technique to compare water vapour imagery with the equivalent product derived from the forecast models. This acted as a check on how the large-scale developments were being handled since there is a direct correlation between signatures in water vapour imagery and the atmospheric dynamical theory."

Additional content

KNMI factsheet on the storm
Met Office YouTube video on the storm
NOAA/NESDIS processing of India’s Oceansat2/OSCAT , East of Denmark, 28 October, 12:52 UTC
Four die as storm hits southern UK (BBC News)
Met Office supercomputer mapped storm long before it had formed (The Telegraph)