Destruction and devastation
Extreme events were recorded
The damage caused by the storm was particularly extensive. A swathe right from East Hampshire across to Norfolk was very heavily affected. Even on the edge of that swathe, very extreme events were recorded. Buildings were damaged all over the place, chimneys seemed to be rocked in a great number of places. A Sealink ferry, for example, was stranded at sea with no power. Several people unfortunately lost their lives.
About 15 million trees blown over
In the natural environment, about 15 million trees were blown over – about equal numbers of broadleaf trees and conifer trees. A lot of them survived, even when they were blown over. In fact, there’s a wood in Scotland, where all the trees blew over in a storm, and they’ve just carried on growing. There were a lot of trees blown down, but not all of them need have died. A lot of them could be around today.
Snap, crackle and chop
I think you can break categories of damage to trees down into several groups. First of all, you have the trees that were completely uprooted. You could call it ‘windthrow’. The next nature of damage was ‘windsnap’, where the whole stem snapped like a match. The next level of damage is the loss of major boughs or major branches. And then you go gradually down to the loss of a few minor branches and the general opening up of the canopy
Parks and woods were devastated
Within woodlands you have, at the extreme end, a massive swathe of devastation. Across the whole of the damaged area, it wasn’t as common as we sometimes think. But in Brighton, a lot of our woods did have massive swathes of damage blown right through them. Stanmer Park is a good example. A lot of the woodland on that slope was just in effect removed – blown over.
A gap in the canopy
But perhaps the more common form of damage was the little canopy gap, where maybe an acre or two of trees were blown over, and the rest of the wood could be relatively undamaged. My estimation is that perhaps what happened is that there was a focussing of several gusts in one point, and that’s where you got particular damage.