There were an estimated 20 million trees blown down by the storm on the night of 15-16 October 1987. At the time, we mourned the loss to our beautiful countryside, but now it is beginning to look rather a good thing. "With hindsight," gardening expert Chris Baines told Reuters yesterday, "it seems that many of the trees which suffered were probably weak and in decline." David Russell of the National Trust adds: "We'd never have been brave enough to cut down so many trees and replant them."
The scale of the devastation led to what was probably the greatest orgy of tree-planting this country has ever seen. Another side-effect was to allow sunlight through to woodland floors that had previously been too densely forested to receive much light. Flowers, wildlife and new trees then sprung up where none had been before.
Meanwhile, back at the Met Office, both forecasting techniques and emergency procedures have improved considerably as a result of the disaster. More observational buoys, faster computers, better data from satellites and faster communication with emergency service control rooms all combine to promise that we will not be taken so badly by surprise again. But we shall not know if that promise is valid until another near-hurricane hits us.Reuse content