We’ve seen some of the worst storms of recent times over the past few years, with no less than 5 major storms since 2020. With weather predictions for the start of 2023 looking bleak, we’ve looked back at some of the worst storms Britain has ever seen.

Worst storms of the UK

Worst Storms to hit the UK

Bristol Channel Floods – 1607

Almost 416 years to the day, Britain’s southwest coast was hit with severe flooding that killed over 2,000 people. Originally believed to be caused by a storm surge, the flood spread some 14 miles from the coast, devasting farmland and livestock in the area. In 2002, scientists Simon Haslett and Ted Bryant uncovered evidence that the floods may have been the results of a tsunami.

The Great Storm – 1703

Said to be one of the worst storms in British history, the great storm of 1703 raged for over a week across the UK. Southern England was the worst affected area and the storm killed between 8,000 and 15,000 people. Branded a hurricane, the extratropical cyclone caused the fall of 2,000 chimney stacks across London and damaged 4,000 oak trees within the New Forest.

According to the Royal Museum Greenwich, it is estimated that the storm caused greater cost of property damage than the great fire of London in 1666.

Eyemouth Disaster – 1881

In October 1881, the south-eastern coast of Scotland was struck by a severe windstorm. The storm blew up while many fishing boats were at sea killing 189 fishermen, most of whom were from Eyemouth. Two days after the storm, one boat – the ‘Ariel Gazelle’ arrived at the harbour with the crew all safe. Having taken the decision to stay at sea rather than attempt to return to shore, the crew had managed to weather the storm and return home safely.

The Great Blizzard – 1891

The day started out calm on Monday 9th March 1891, but by mid-afternoon winds had picked up, becoming a full gale by nightfall. Powdered snow fall, coupled with high winds, caused blizzard like conditions across Cornwall, Devon, and Somerset. This led to snow drifts of over 15 feet high, the weight of which caused roofs to collapse and brought down telegraph poles and lines.

Boats where crashing against the rocks of the Cornish coast and trains were stranded with passengers onboard. The southeast was essentially cut off from the rest of the UK as strong winds continued over the next 5 days. The blizzard killed more than 200 people and over 6,000 animals and is said to have not completely melted until June of that year. 

Eyemouth Disaster – 1881

North Sea Flood – 1953

Effecting the Netherlands and north-west Belgium as well as England and Scotland, this heavy storm surge caused floods of up 5.6 metres above sea level. Deemed the worst flooding in Britain of the 20th century, the storm caused the deaths of 307 people in England and 19 people in eastern Scotland. An estimated 224 Brits were also killed at sea during the storm as the MV Princess Victoria sank in the north channel.

The Big Freeze – 1962/63

One of the coldest winters (December, January, and February) on record, the big freeze of 1962/63 brought an anticyclone and heavy winds which continued throughout the Christmas period. Following this, a blizzard swept across Southwest England and Wales bringing snow drifts of more than 20 feet deep in some places.

The cold temperatures meant the snow lingered for almost two months across the country. Snow continued to fall throughout February with a 36-hour blizzard causing snow drifts in parts of the country. It wasn’t until March of 1963 that the snow began to thaw and temperatures began to rise.

The Great Storm 2 – 1987

The 15th of October 1987 brought a violent storm which raged across the UK and saw wind speeds of up to 100mph. Casualties were reported and extensive damage occurred at the British National Grid, leaving thousands of homes and business without power. 

It was reported that the storm cost the insurance industry £2billion and is one of the costliest storms on record.

Burns’ Day Storm – 1990

Also known as Cyclone Daria, the Burns’ Day Storm, caused the deaths of 47 people as high winds battered the UK. Gusts of up to 104mph were recorded and sustained winds of between 70 and 75mph were comparable to a category 1 hurricane.

The storm caused considerable damage across the UK and cost insurers £3.37 billion, the most expensive weather related event to insurers.

The Beast from the East – 2018

Two red weather warning were issued by the Met Office as the Beast from the East brought low temperatures and severe snowfall to the UK. Temperatures dropped to -11°C, schools were forced to close in some areas and public transport was cancelled as snow began to fall across the country. The storm left people stranded in cars on major motorways and caused the deaths of 16 people.

Storm Arwen – 2021

Named on the 25th November 2021, Storm Arwen caused the issue of a rare red weather warning from the met office for wind.  Parts of Northeast England and Scotland were advised to prepare for extreme wind and waves across the coast.

The storm caused a mass power outage affecting 112,000 homes in the north of England and a further 80,000 in Scotland. Some homeowners were without power for up to a week following the storm as Northern PowerGrid rebuilt large sections of overhead powerlines that had been damage due to the adverse weather.

Dealing with the aftermath

The UK has seen some extreme storms and adverse weather over the past few years. If you have been caught in a storm that has damaged your property, Aspray can help you with your insurance claim.

Find out more about the claims we’ve managed in the case studies below.

Successful Claims

See examples of the Aspray service in action, with case studies based on different perils. There may be a case study that is similar to your situation. If you want to find out more about a particular case study, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

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