St. Jude storm

St. Jude storm

The St. Jude storm over Europe, at 12:10 UTC, on 28 October 2013
Type European windstorm
Extratropical cyclone
Formed 26 October 2013
Dissipated 31 October 2013[1]
Lowest pressure Est. 965 mb (28.5 inHg) Obs. 967.6mb
Highest winds
Highest gust 120.8 miles per hour (194.4 km/h), Als, Denmark
Areas affected Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Russia

The St. Jude storm, also known as Cyclone Christian,[2] and other names, was a severe Hurricane-force 12 European windstorm that hit Northwestern Europe on 27 and 28 October 2013 causing at least 17 deaths. The highest windspeed was in Denmark, where a gust of 120.8 mph (194.4 km/h) was recorded in the south of the country on the afternoon of 28 October, the strongest wind recorded in the country's history.[3]

Satellite image 26 October 2013 at 1012 UTC showing the position of the St. Jude Storm (Storm Christian) forming over Northern Atlantic. At the top of the image, the low pressure "Burkhard".


Although it was reported that the storm was named by a clerk at the UK's Met Office,[4] the Met Office themselves have stated that they do not know who[5] named the storm.[6] The storm was named by the Weather Channel UK meteorologist Leon Brown, after the feast of Saint Jude the Apostle, which takes place on 28 October, the day when the storm was expected to be at its height.[7][8] The name is reported to have been popularised on Twitter before being adopted by the media in the United Kingdom.[8]

The storm was named "Christian" on 26 October 2013 by the Free University of Berlin's meteorological institute.[9] According to The Guardian, European Union institutions are officially referring to the storm as "Christian".[8]

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute named the storm "Simone", based on the Swedish name day list.[5] The European Windstorm Centre,[10] a UK-based forecaster, gave the storm the name "Carmen".[8] The Danish Meteorological Institute referred to it as the October storm 2013 (Oktoberstormen 2013),[11] but it was later named "Allan" per request from the Minister for Climate, Energy and Building, Martin Lidegaard.[12]

Meteorological history

Loop of meteorological surface map of the trajectory of the St. Jude Storm of 25 to 29 October 2013

A depression formed off the east coast of the United States and headed east, assisted by the jet stream.[13] The St. Jude storm formed in the western Atlantic as a secondary low on the southern flanks of an area of low pressure to the east of southern Greenland; this Icelandic Low was named "Burkhard" by the Free University of Berlin.[14] The St. Jude storm formed from a wave front on 26 October in the northwest Atlantic off the Eastern seaboard of North America.[15] The developing low moved under the jet stream passing by the remnants of ex-tropical storm Lorenzo situated in the mid Atlantic.[15][16] The tropical air from this storm provided an input of energy,[17] strengthening the jetstream, and helping to intensify the deepening of the low in an area closer to Europe than usual. This, together with a strong jet stream, led to a rapid deepening of the St. Jude low before it hit western Europe as a strengthening storm.[18] The storm has been cited as both meeting and not meeting the strict criteria of explosive deepening.[19][20] The storm system was swept across the Atlantic at a rapid pace moving eastwards with an average speed of 77 km/h (48 mph), and crossed over 2000 km (1240miles) in less than 26 hours.[21]

Across southern England two zones of strong winds were noted, the first ahead of the storm that battered the south coast, and a second zone that struck East Anglia and the South East as the storm passed over into the North Sea. This second zone of winds has been identified by meteorologists as potentially being a sting jet, an area where wind speeds are enhanced by cooled air rapidly descending from high in the storm.[22][23] The storm developed as a baroclinic leaf over England.[23] Over 20 hours between 27 October at 18:00 UTC and 28 October 14:00 UTC the central pressure of the storm dropped by 22 hPa.[17] The storm intensified as it crossed the North Sea with the central pressure dropping to an estimated 965 mb, the lowest land-based pressure of 967.6 mb was recorded at Thyboron, Denmark.[21] The low pressure centre of the storm reached Finland at 1:00 UTC 29 October having only filled to 970 mb.[21]


The storm was first forecast in the week before it occurred, with the Met Office supercomputer modelling the storm four days before it even formed.[24] Initial predictions, broadcast on 24 October, were that the south coast would be affected. A later forecast was that the storm would pass over the United Kingdom on a more northerly track, affecting all areas south of the Midlands.[25] Predictions were for 20–40 mm (0.6–1.2 in) of rain, with wind speeds of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) falling in a period of six to nine hours.[13] These were later updated, with winds of Force 11 predicted.[26]

The Met Office issued "Amber – be prepared" warnings on 24 October for the storm along the south coast of England, with a "Yellow – be aware" warning extending up to the Midlands.[27] Warnings up to the Midlands were upgraded to amber on 25 October.[28]

The forecast storm was widely reported in the British press on 25 October, with comparisons being made to the Great Storm of 1987 and the Burns' Day Storm of 1990.[29][30] A Met Office spokeswoman said the 1990 storm, when damaging winds affected a larger area of the UK, was a better comparison than the 1987 storm, when much of the strongest wind-field affected the English Channel.[31] Later projections predicted the storm to have a severity more like storms in October 2000, January 2007, and March 2008.[32] Forecasters in the UK latterly thought the storm would affect England in a similar manner to the storm of 27–28 October 2002.[18] Michael Fish, who made an infamous error in forecasting the Great Storm of 1987, wrote that he felt that people should delay their journey to work because of the storm.[33] During the storm, Fish had a birch tree in his garden blown over, stating it "serves him right".[34] The Met Office received praise for the accuracy of its forecast.[35][36]

On 26 October, Météo-France issued orange warnings for Brittany, Normandy, coastal Picardy and Nord-Pas de Calais. Twelve departments in Northern France were placed on alert, all in the regions of Brittany, Haute Normandie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais, as well as the departments of Calvados, Loire-Atlantique, Manche and Somme. Gusts on the French coast were predicted to reach 120 to 130 kilometres per hour (75 to 81 mph).[37]

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute issued a warning of severe gusts of 75 to 100 km/h on Monday with gusts up to between 90 and 120 km/h expected in the afternoon on 28 October. In the Netherlands, four provinces were placed on alert Utrecht, North Holland, South Holland and Zeeland. On the north-west coast of the Netherlands, winds of Force 11 were predicted.[38]

The Danish Meteorological Institute warned of the possibility of a storm and high coastal waters for Monday afternoon, with storm-strength gusts expected.[39] The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute warned authorities in the country that the storm could continue to the west coast of Sweden.[40]

Piers Corbyn of the private subscription service Weatheraction claims to have predicted the storm as many as 6 weeks before it struck, based on his own solar and lunar forecasting technique.[41] Though another storm he predicted did not occur.


Ahead of the storm, London's Metropolitan Police Service advised people to only use the 999 emergency telephone number in an emergency, and to use the 101 Single Non-Emergency Number service for reporting non-emergency situations, anticipating the emergency services being stretched by the storm's passage.[32][42]


The storm made landfall in the early hours of 28 October. A gust of 99 miles per hour (159 km/h) was recorded at The Needles Battery, Isle of Wight.[43] Over the British mainland peak gusts were limited to 120 km/h (75 mph).[21] Speeds of 65 metres per second (150 mph) were measured at the Gunfleet Sands Offshore Wind Farm.[44]

On the Île d'Ouessant, Finistère, France, a gust of 133 kilometres per hour (83 mph) was recorded.[37] On the Dutch coast and in the IJsselmeer, gusts of 90 to 130 kilometres per hour (56 to 81 mph) were recorded.[45]

The storm was the strongest in the Netherlands since the Burns Day storm of 1990, with windgusts measuring speeds between 140 to 150 kilometres per hour (87 to 93 mph) at Wadden Sea.[46]

Two private weather recording stations on the German islands of Borkum and Heligoland both recorded a possible low-elevation national wind speed record of 191kmh (119 mph) on 28 October, with maximum sustained winds of 130 kmh (88 mph) which are as yet unverified by the German weather service.[21]

A gust of 120.8 miles per hour (194.4 km/h) was recorded in southern Denmark, the strongest wind recorded in the country's history,[3] however the Danish Meteorological Institute is convinced that the 1999 storm had even higher wind speeds, but different methods and faulty equipment meant that recordings were less than in 2013.[47]


Damaged cladding on Cranfield Mill, Ipswich

United Kingdom

The worst damage was caused by trees being brought down by the wind (as many had still not yet dropped their leaves) falling onto buildings, cars and powerlines.[48] Overall structural damage to residential and commercial buildings was limited in the United Kingdom, with most damage to roofs, cladding and glazing.[48] Many insurance claims were expected for food in freezers which defrosted after power outages.[48]

Some of the more notable incidents in the United Kingdom included: In Essex, the helter-skelter on Clacton Pier was blown down and the orangutan enclosure at Colchester Zoo suffered roof damage.[49][50] In London, a crane collapsed on top of the Cabinet Office, closing Whitehall between Horse Guards Avenue and Parliament Square.[51] A second crane collapsed in South East London, closing the Old Kent Road,[52] both cranes were the same model and an investigation was subsequently launched by the manufacturer and the Health and Safety Executive.[53][54] Construction sites across London were in lock-down during the storm, Francis Road in Leyton saw a hundred metre long two storey scaffold collapse and in Mayfair's Berkeley Square another large scaffold collapsed.[55] In Hounslow, London, two people were killed when a gas explosion destroyed three houses and damaged two after the storm blew a tree down.[56] In Ipswich, Suffolk, the high winds ripped exterior cladding off buildings overlooking the marina, with brick walls and hoardings also being brought down leading to road closures.[57] A double-decker bus with two passengers on board was blown over near Hadleigh, Suffolk.[58]


Damage in Belgium was relatively limited.[59] Fifteen people were evacuated from their homes when scaffolding collapsed in Merksem Antwerp, damaging cars parked below.[59][60] Scaffolding in Ostend was also brought down during the storm.[59] A high sided truck loaded with chocolate was blown over on the European route E34 between Antwerp and Germany shedding its contents on the road and causing delays. Elsewhere in Flanders the coastal town of Nieuwpoort saw strong gusts damage two marquees which had been hosting the International Boat Show, despite being weighted down with large concrete blocks the damage was estimated at more than €200,000.[59][61] In Brussels a large banner on the European Commission's Berlaymont building was ripped to shreds by the winds.[62] Also in Brussels, a section of the orbital ring road was closed after road signs were brought down by high winds.[59]


The record for the highest gust in the country (for the month of October) was broken three times, with a 148.2 kilometres per hour (92.1 mph) gust measured in Texel, North Holland, a 151 kilometres per hour (94 mph) gust on Vlieland, Friesland, and the strongest gust of 152 kilometres per hour (94 mph) at Lauwersoog, De Marne in Groningen.[63] Vlieland sustained winds of Force 11 for one hour, and Force 12 winds for at least 20 minutes. Two people were killed, a woman in Amsterdam and a man in Veenendaal, while at least 25 others were injured.[64]

Widespread damage was reported throughout the country, with thousands of trees falling down and damaging cars, gas lines, buildings, and causing disruption to transport. In Amsterdam, hundreds of trees were uprooted, destroying cars and sinking at least one houseboat on the city's canals. Roofs were blown off buildings and debris caused much of the city's tram services to come to a halt, while buses experienced heavy delays and the subway system was reportedly overcrowded. Amsterdam Centraal railway station was closed due to storm damage, and there was virtually no rail traffic in and around the city for most of the day, leaving thousands of travellers stranded. KLM cancelled 47 flights out of Schiphol airport, while many others experienced heavy delays. Municipal authorities closed most of the city's parks in addition to the Artis zoo, and several remained closed a day after the storm's passage, including the Vondelpark and Amstelpark. A photograph circulating on Twitter shows a ferris wheel in central Amsterdam that appears to be damaged but it turned out to be a planned demolition by the owners.[65]

Uploaded recordings of the storm in the Netherlands included a cyclist in Amsterdam narrowly escaping a falling tree at Haarlemmerplein,[66] and video of a house roof being damaged by the high winds in Dokkum, Friesland.[67]

The Port of Rotterdam was closed for all shipping on 28 October, while the DFDS-owned King Seaways ferry with 1,080 people on board coming from Newcastle was forced to abandon docking at IJmuiden and return to sea to wait the storm out.[68][69]

On 29 October Forest Service authorities warned people not to venture into forested areas for the next few days, as many trees were weakened and together with falling branches represented a danger to people's lives.[70] Initial damage estimates exceeded 95 million Euros and were expected to rise even further, as they only included individuals reports and not damage done to the agricultural or public sector.[71] More than 10,000 emergency calls were made throughout the Netherlands during the day, with Amsterdam having the highest total of 366.[72]


Damage to a roof at the University of Flensburg

High winds toppled many trees in north west Germany, with the strongest wind field impacting the East Frisian islands and Heligoland. Storm damages occurred principally across the states of Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg and Schleswig Holstein, with lesser damages reported in North Rhine-Westphalia and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. On the East Frisian island of Nordeney footage of a roof being blown off in the high winds was captured.[73] At the University of Flensburg the roof was blown off a campus building onto a car park below.[74]

The Oost Mühle, Greetsiel. The mill's cap is on the ground at right.

The Oost Mühle windmill, in Greetsiel, Lower Saxony was tailwinded.[Note 1] Its cap and sails blown off.[75][76] The tailwinding was filmed.[77]

In Göttingen, also in Lower Saxony, part of the façade of a building of the city's university was brought down by storm gusts onto empty parked cars.[78][79]


External image
Railway damage in Denmark

In Denmark, The Lyngby railway station was damaged. Trees were blown down in almost every part of the country and car accidents were also caused by the storm. A roof in Haderslev in southern region of Denmark landed on an elderly woman. A man died after being hit by a brick from a fallen house. The day after, 29 October a man was killed after he crashed into a fallen tree on the road.[80] In Copenhagen areas of the main shopping street Strøget, were closed by police due to the danger of falling scaffolding in the wind, also in the city a 17 storey crane was toppled in Bryggen.[81] In Faaborg, the Åstrup Mølle windmill had two sails blown off.[82] Train operating company DSB rail said it expected damages to total at least five million kroner, possibly up to 10 million kroner with 25 damaged trains needing to be repaired.[83] The track and signal operator Banedanmark said 500 trees had fallen on the lines in the country and expected its damages to total between five and seven million kroner from the storm.[83]


The strongest wind gust of 33.2 metres per second (120 km/h) was recorded on the Estonian island of Vilsandi on 29 October.[84] Some 160,000 customers were without power during the storm's passage and many houses and forests were damaged.

Wind Speeds

Country Sustained Speed Max Wind Gusts Beaufort Scale
United Kingdom 99 mph Storm-force 11
France 83 mph Storm-force 11
Netherlands 87-93 mph Storm-force 11
Germany 88 mph 119 mph Hurricane-Force 12
Denmark 120.8 mph Hurricane-Force 12


Electricity supplies




United Kingdom




Country Fatalities Missing
 Germany 8 0
 United Kingdom 4 1
 Netherlands 3 0
 Denmark 3 0
 France 1 0
Total 19 1


A woman of 47 was swept into the sea from Belle Île, an island off the coast of Brittany.[125][126] Her dead body was found the next morning.[127]

United Kingdom

At Newhaven, East Sussex, a 14-year-old boy was swept out to sea on 27 October.[128] The search for him, involving the Newhaven Lifeboat David and Elizabeth Acland and a Coastguard helicopter, was called off at 21:45 on 27 October.[129] A man died in Watford, Hertfordshire when a tree fell on his car.[130] In Hever, Kent, a 17-year-old girl died after the storm blew a tree onto the static caravan in which she was living.[43] In Hounslow, London, two people were killed when a gas explosion destroyed three houses and damaged two after the storm blew a tree down.[56]


In Amsterdam, a woman died after a tree fell on her at the Herengracht. A tree that fell on a taxi severely injured the male passenger inside.[131] A 22-year-old man was severely injured in Veenendaal when he was struck by a tree branch, and he died later in the hospital.[132]


In Cologne, a sailor died on 27 October when his boat capsized.[133] A fisherman died in a separate incident. On 28 October, two people, a mother and child, were killed in Gelsenkirchen when an uprooted tree fell on their car.[78][134] A Flensburg newspaper reported the death of a German male in Flensburg, hit by a falling tree.[135] The German media claimed at least 8 dead.[136]


A 21-year-old man who was taking pictures in Gilleleje near Copenhagen was killed by flying tiles.[137] A man was found dead in his car in Holbæk after his car had crashed into a fallen tree.[138]


Insurance industry

The track of the St. Jude storm across Europe took it over densely populated areas of southern England and the Netherlands, impacting on its route the major cities of London, the Dutch Randstad, Hamburg and Copenhagen, which could indicate a high level of insured exposure.[139]

Immediately following the passage of the storm in the United Kingdom, a surge of calls to insurance groups led to companies drafting in additional staff to handle claims and assess damage.[140] Many of the larger insurers also found that their share price fell as investors feared the potential financial costs the storm could bring to the companies,[140] although the Financial Times reported that shares in UK insurers were trading at a level broadly similar to the wider market during the morning of 28 October.[141]

Willis Re estimated the total costs to the insurance industry of the storm were likely to range between £300 million and £500 million in the UK on 29 October 2013. The Executive Director said the damage was comparable to windstorm Kyrill, which struck in 2007 and according to data from the Association of British Insurers would have incurred costs of £370 million in 2013.[142] In an update released on 4 November Willis Re stated they expected losses to be lower than their initial estimates in the UK, and estimated Europe-wide losses to be between €800m and €1.3bn (£677m and £1.1bn).[143] The catastrophe modelling company AIR Worldwide estimated on 7 November that they expected European losses to be higher at between 1.5 and 2.3 Euros.[48][144]

Perils AG, the independent reporting agency established to aggregate and provide the insurance industry with catastrophe insurance data,[145] launched an investigation into the storm.[146] The initial estimate of damages form the storm were published on 6 December at €994 million, later updated to €1,068 million on 27 January 2014. The third estimate of €1,091 million was released on 28 April 2014.[147]

Electricity supplies

In the United Kingdom 3,110 homes were still without power on 1 November mostly in the east of England, with Suffolk being the worst-hit area of the country.[148] UK Power Networks said the storm caused extensive damage to overhead power lines, forcing it to draft in more than 1,000 specialist engineers.[148] By the afternoon of 1 November only 100 homes were without power.[85] National Grid estimated that two gigawatts (2000 MW) of wind power generation was lost during 24 hours as the St. Jude storm passed over the UK (turbines shut down during very high winds as a safety precaution), generation by fuel type during the storm was 10.5 percent wind, 40 percent coal and 23 percent gas fired, which a spokesman said was typical for a windy day.[149] UK Power Networks the Distribution network operator in the East of England, London and parts of South East England paid 13,000 eligible customers compensation totalling £1,134,000 as a result of power outages lasting longer than 48 hours due to the storm.[150]

In Estonia the tabloid Õhtuleht was critical of the government owned Eesti Energia following the storm damage to the countries' electricity infrastructure. The newspaper questioned if the company was investing enough in the domestic power grid, especially in rural areas.[151] The director of Elektrilevi, the power distribution subsidiary of Eesti Energia announced that 80 percent of Estonia would be covered by a weatherproof grid by 2025.[152]

Cultural References

Florence Welch wrote a song about the personal struggles she was experiencing around the time the storm hit Britain. She said that she felt as if a huge storm were following her, both physically and mentally.


  1. ^ When a windmill is tailwinded, the wind is blowing from the rear of the mill. A fantail cannot turn the cap to face into wind, and the cap may be lifted and/or blown off.[153]


Wikimedia Commons has media related to St Jude storm.
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