1. ITV Report

Storms on the horizon

Researchers hope to be able to predict big storms in the South Photo: University of Reading

The cyclone that brought about devastating winds that battered the UK in the great storm of October 1987 was exceptional in both its strength and path across the south of the country. This is the finding of a new study which has analysed the places where sting jets - an area that develops in some cyclones and causes strong surface winds - appear in the North Atlantic and how often they do so.

Researchers at the University of Reading are studying exceptional storms to try to predict when they will occur.

They say that by studying weather patterns from the 1980s they can help prepare the south for big storms.

Of the 100 storms studied, they found that around 30% of the storms had the potential to produce sting jets but these seemed to originate in relatively warmer, more southerly latitudes, out at sea.

A sting jet originates in a cyclone at an altitude of five kilometres within layers of moist ascending air. As the jet of air descends, it passes through clouds of ice crystals that cool it down, increasing its density and causing it to accelerate to speeds of up to 100 mph. These strong winds appear in regions of a cyclone where they would not usually occur according to previous models.