Burns' Day Storm

The Burns' Day Storm (also known as Cyclone Daria) was an extremely violent windstorm that took place on 25–26 January 1990 over North-Western Europe. It is one of the strongest European windstorms on record. This storm has received different names, as there is no official list of such events in Europe.[5] Starting on Burns Day, the birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, it caused widespread damage and hurricane-force winds over a wide area.

Burns' Day Storm
Burns' Day Storm/Daria 11:30UTC 25 January 1990
TypeEuropean windstorm, extratropical, extratropical storm surge
Formed23 January 1990[1]
Dissipated26 January 1990
Highest winds
  • mean hourly wind 64 kn (119 km/h; 74 mph), Sheerness, Kent
Highest gust93 kn (172 km/h; 107 mph), Aberporth, Wales and Gwennap Head, Cornwall
Lowest pressure949 hPa (28.0 inHg)[1]
Fatalities47 UK,[2] 17 Netherlands,[3] 12 France,[4]
Areas affectedIreland, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands, West Germany, East Germany, Denmark

Meteorological historyEdit

The storm began as a cold front over the Northern Atlantic Ocean on 23 January. By 24 January, it had a minimum central pressure of 992 millibars (29.3 inHg) and began to undergo explosive cyclogenesis, which was sometimes referred to as a weather bomb.[6] It made landfall on the morning of January 25 over Ireland. It then tracked over to Ayrshire in Scotland. The lowest pressure of 949 mbar (28 inHg) was estimated near Edinburgh around 16:00. After hitting the United Kingdom, the storm tracked rapidly east towards Denmark and caused major damage and 30 deaths in the Netherlands and Belgium.[1]


The strongest sustained winds recorded were between 70 and 75mph (110–120 km/h), comparable to a weak Category 1 hurricane or Hurricane-force 12 on the Beaufort Scale. Strong gusts of up to 104mph (170 km/h) were reported, which caused the most extensive damage. The Great Storm of 1987 contained considerably higher wind speeds across every parameter but affected a smaller area of the UK. Both highest recorded sustained wind speeds of 86mph and highest gust of 135mph for example. Sustained periods of high gust speeds were also far higher in 1987. However, during the 1987 storm, many anemometers stopped recording because of power outages, breakages by the excess wind speeds and measurement maxima being exceeded. By 1990, the meteorological community had newer devices that remained independent of external power and could measure higher wind speeds. The general opinion is that wind speeds measured during the Burns' Day Storm provide an accurate picture, but there is a tendency to downplay windspeeds from the 1987 storm because of the patchy data available. In the 1987 storm, it was the counties of Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Essex (i.e. the SE of England) which were worst hit and suffered the most damage. Met Office forecaster of the day, Michael Fish became notoriously infamous by assuring a lady enquirer that "there was not going to be a 'hurricane'".


The Burns' Day Storm of 1990 has been given as an example of when the Met Office "got the prediction right".[7] The model forecast hinged on observations from two ships in the Atlantic near the developing storm the day before it reached the UK.[8]

During the day of the storm, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) increased warnings to force 11 and eventually to hurricane force 12. It conducted research that most of the general public could not understand the severity of the warnings. The storm has led to more awareness and understanding of storminess among the public by the KNMI, which started a teletext page and the introduction of special warnings for extreme weather events in reaction to these findings.[9]


Casualties were much higher than those of the Great Storm of 1987 because the storm hit during the daytime. The storm caused extensive damage, with approximately 3 million trees downed, power disrupted to over 500,000 homes and severe flooding in England and West Germany. The storm cost insurers in the UK £3.37 billion, the UK's most expensive weather event to insurers.[10] Most of the deaths were caused by collapsing buildings or falling debris. In one case in Sussex, a class of children was evacuated just minutes before their school building collapsed. The actor Gorden Kaye was also injured during the storm when a plank of an advertising board was blown through his car's windscreen.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c McCallum, E. (1990). "The Burns' Day Storm, 25 January 1990". Weather. 45 (5): 166–173. Bibcode:1990Wthr...45..166M. doi:10.1002/j.1477-8696.1990.tb05607.x.
  2. ^ "Burns' Day Storm - 25 January 1990" (PDF). Met Office. 15 April 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Zwaarste storm sinds 1990". nos.nl (in Dutch). 28 October 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Daria le 25 janvier 1990 - Tempêtes en France métropolitaine". tempetes.meteo.fr. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Seasonal predictability of European wind storms" (PDF). Institute of Meteorology. Free University of Berlin. 2008. p. 7. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Daria le 25 janvier 1990 - Tempêtes en France métropolitaine". tempetes.meteofrance.fr (in French). Météo-France. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  7. ^ Adams, Tim (21 February 2010). "Met Office forecasts storm warnings over its accuracy". The Observer. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  8. ^ Heming, J.T. (1990). "The impact of surface and radiosonde observations from two Atlantic ships on a numerical weather prediction model forecast for the storm of 25 January 1990". The Meteorological Magazine. 119: 249–259.
  9. ^ "Nader Verklaard Zwaarste storm in decennia". KMNI. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  10. ^ "UK storm payout 'may hit £350m' the storm was really really big". BBC News. 20 February 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2017. High winds that hit the country in the first few weeks of 1990 – costing insurers £3.37bn – remain the most expensive for insurers.
  11. ^ "1990: Children killed in devastating storm". On This Day. BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2017.

External linksEdit