St. Jude Day Storms: 13 Dead as Hurricane-Force Winds Batter Britain, France, Germany
October 28, 2013
LONDON — A savage coastal storm powered by hurricane-force gusts slashed its way through Britain and western Europe on Monday, felling trees, flooding lowlands and snarling traffic in the air, at sea and on land. At least 13 people were reported killed.
It was one of the worst storms to hit the region in years. The deadly tempest had no formal name — and wasn’t officially classified as a hurricane due to a meteorological standard — but it was dubbed the St. Jude storm (after the patron saint of lost causes) and “stormageddon” on social networks.
Gusts of 99 miles per hour were reported on the Isle of Wight in southern England, while gusts up to 80 mph hit the British mainland. Later in the day, parts of Denmark saw record gusts up of to 120 mph and an autobahn in central Germany was shut down by gusts up to 62 mph.
“This was not just a British storm,” said weather.com meteorologist Nick Wiltgen. “The core of powerful winds marched relentlessly east, raking northern France and the Low Countries before slamming into northern Germany, Denmark, and southern Sweden. That latter phase in particular was exceptionally intense, with a 105-mph gust in extreme northern Germany and many many places gusting over 85 mph in the surrounding area.”
Wiltgen warned the high winds would sweep across the southern Baltic Sea and into the countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania Monday night.
(MORE: Track the UK Storm)
All across the region, people were warned to stay indoors. Hundreds of trees were uprooted or split, blocking roads and crushing cars. The Dutch were told to leave their beloved bicycles at home for safety’s sake.
At least thirteen storm-related deaths were reported, most victims crushed by falling trees. Germany had six deaths, Britain had five and the Netherlands and Denmark had one each. One woman was also missing after being swept into the surf in France.
Two people were killed in London by a gas explosion and a British teen who played in the storm-driven surf was swept out to sea. A man in Denmark was killed when a brick flew off and hit him in the head.
Despite the strength of its gusts, the storm was not considered a hurricane because it didn’t form over warm expanses of open ocean like the hurricanes that batter the Caribbean and the United States. Britain’s national weather service, the Met Office, said Britain does not get hurricanes because those are “warm latitude” storms that draw their energy from seas far warmer than the North Atlantic. Monday’s storm also did not have an “eye” at its center like most hurricanes.