Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Burns' Day storm
The Burns' Day Storm occurred on January 25 - 26, 1990, over Northwestern Europe and is one of the strongest storms on record, causing widespread damage and hurricane force winds over a wide area. The storm was responsible for 97 deaths according to the Met Office, although figures have ranged from 90 to over 100.
The storm began as a cold front over the Northern Atlantic Ocean on January 23. By the 24th it had a minimum central pressure of 992mb. It made landfall on the morning of the 25th over Northern Ireland before tracking over to Ayrshire in Scotland. The lowest pressure of 949mb was recorded near Edinburgh around 16:00. After hitting the United Kingdom, the storm tracked rapidly east towards Denmark.
The strongest sustained winds recorded were between 70 and 75 mph, comparable to a weak Category One hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Strong gusts were reported up to 104 mph (strong Category Two), and it was these that caused the most extensive damage.
The Met Office was praised for giving far more accurate forecasts compared to the Great Storm of 1987. Casualties were still much higher than in 1987, however, because the storm hit during the daytime. The storm caused extensive damage, with approximately 3 million trees downed, power disrupted to over 500,000 homes and severe flooding in England and Western Germany. The estimated cost of the storm was at least £2 Billion.
Most of the deaths were caused by building collapses or falling debris. In one case in Sussex, a class of children were evacuated just minutes before the whole building came down. The 'Allo 'Allo! actor Gordon Kaye received severe head injuries when part of a billboard went flying through the windshield of the car he was driving. He made a slow recovery before returning to work and has had a visible scar on his forehead ever since.
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