St Jude’s Storm Approaches

Brace yourselves, Britain: a storm is on its way!

You may have heard about it already. You may be thinking this is a bit much for one week, what with the storm that hit London on the night of the new Thor movie premiere last Tuesday, and what with the torrential rain bands that have swept across these past few days, but we haven’t seen the end of it yet.

If you haven’t check the Met Office and the BBC, who are currently producing the best reports on the event, you should do. There’s some great maps and graphs which show the expected route and rainfall concentrations, and wind speed. The storm is in the process of passing over as I write this, but is due to hit with fullest force on Monday.

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The South of England is said to be the most severely affected, with greatest wind speeds of more than 70 miles per hour. The actual eye of the storm is most likely to pass over Wales and the Midlands, and the whole of the UK is probably going to experience bad weather in general, but currently the strongest estimation of the storm’s course is that the South will suffer.

In an amazing display of coincidence, the storm is falling on St Jude’s Day. Now, St Jude is the patron saint of depression and lost things, so naturally the storm is names after this saint. It’s so poetically British. I love it. I just hope the storm doesn’t quite live up to its namesake!

I am wondering if this constitutes a sting jet, as purely by coincidence I have been reading a lot about sting jets, especially in relation to the ’87 storm, recently. A similar pattern was seen there, and again the South was the first and worst area to be hit.

The ’87 storm was said to be caused by one of these sting jets – a sting in the tail of the cyclone, which at the time was very unexpected and caught even the meteorologists off-guard.

As seen by the ’87 event, storms like this at the end of October are quite common. A large part of it has to do with the way the jet stream is deflected as the seasons change. The changing ocean temperatures as the Northern hemisphere gets colder affects convection, and can cause eddies to form at the polar front (which Britain is in the path of). The boundary between warm and cold air at the polar front is usually wavy (these are called Rossby waves) but eddies can ’pinch off’ and deflect the Jet Stream, which also travels along the Polar Front boundary. This makes anomalous cyclonic weather during October, and that’s the basic mechanics of it.

The Met Office also have a video out which shows the whole thing in more detail (with pretty visuals).
This is one of those storms that I can feel in my arthritic bones. It should be pretty spectacular at the very least, and relatively dangerous at the most.

Just remember the basics – don’t play in flood water, check if you’re in a flood zone (the Environment Agency has all the details) and if you are, don’t leave valuables within floodwater reach! I know for a fact that some train services (like South West Trains) are operating on reduced schedules so don’t forget to check your local services for and changes. Some travel services are actually advising people not to travel at all tomorrow, but that’s a bit optimistic for those of us with obligations like work.

The rain should start soon, tonight, and the full force of the storm should be felt tomorrow morning, especially the early hours. Stay safe!

Horse_Stories 1: Hopelessly lost, a businessman…

Allow me to present my newest short story inspiration challenge. The aim is to find a quote from Horse_ebooks (the notorious twitterbot that was recently revealed to be a real person) and use it as the starting seed for a short story. Now there’s already been Horse_ebooks fanfics but this is slightly different. The rule is simple: the first paragraph from your story must feature the Horse_ebooks tweet in its entirety, preferably near the start of the paragraph. And the rest must be original. I just did my first one, it’s tremendous amounts of fun!

Horse_Stories 1: Hopelessly lost, a businessman…

Hopelessly lost, a businessman stumbles through the city’s suburbs. He wonders how he got here, how on earth he slipped through the cracks to the… other side. The only thing he does know is the time. Nine thirty.

Shadowy bodies file through takeaway doors, congregations returning to their oil-slicked, fatty salvation. Air vents whir. Rubbish crackles underfoot. Everywhere, dank, grimy walls muffling far-off drunken shouts and revelry.

He doesn’t know much about the other side, indeed, he has spent most of his life trying to imagine it doesn’t exist. And yet here he is. He tries to ignore the sickening lump rising in his throat and stumbles on.

He turns into yet another side street. The main roads have all but vanished. From beyond an open door a woman calls out an expletive-laden stream of words, he hopes not in his direction, and he hurries past the doorway splashing yellow light out into the street. It’s been so dark for so long now he can’t bear the narrow, sudden brightness.

Ten thirty.

He comes to a wider space that makes him skirt round the edges, frightened as a shrew. A nightclub. People queuing outside. There’s a taxi rank – oh saviours of lost souls on dark nights! – and he approaches. He cannot find his credit card, he was sure it was here a second ago, and so fumbles in his wallet for small change, anything that will get him somewhere familiar. A good businessman never carries cash on his person.

The taxi driver shakes his head. The small change won’t cut it, not for where the businessman wants to go. And no, he confirms, he won’t work for free.

Jeers from the nightclub crowd. They’re out on the prowl tonight, why can’t he be? He retreats further inside his head, backs away and carries on. It’s gotten very crowded. Almost midnight by now, surely? He doesn’t see the shapes of men as he bumbles into another dark alley, and slams hard into one man’s bulky side. A shout of something colloquial he cannot understand, for his rational senses have deserted him by now. He prays they will not rise to attack and his offerings to a fabricated deity he only placates during times of self-interest are, amazingly, heard. He escapes with only the bruise from initial contact to grace his shoulder.

He checks his watch, for it has to be nearly midnight now. But the watch is not there any longer. He checks his pockets but no, it had definitely been on his wrist. He remembers the men and thumps a fist hard against brick. Bones ill-used to such force protest and he feels another bruise start to well up. Too tired to experience the full intensity of his anger, he instead lets the hand drop and puts one foot in front of the other, edging towards a light somewhere up ahead.

The light is a mirage. He weeps. His tie starts to constrict his throat and he loosens it. His fingers, stiff with drizzle and cold, won’t do as he says. With distinct lack of finesse he tangles the slim strip of fabric, panics, paws at it, then the whole length of it breaks free and curls into a puddle. He feels more hot tears rise and bitterly regards the muddied symbol of his lost status. The great works of man are doomed to end in a mere puddle.

It has been too long standing for his aching feet and when he splashes into his next puddle it is his last, for his feet give up and he falls, face first, into what feels like mud. A torn bit of old newspaper flaps against his cheek.

There is the bong, bong, bong of a distant clock. His real, true deity; time. Get the time right and you make money, after all. He greets the sound of the clock with the warm fervour of one returning to Sunday mass after a hard and troubling week. He cannot see the clock tower but that does not matter now.

His face is still squished against the mud for he has no energy to move. He just waits for salvation. Big Ben bongs to twelve but it doesn’t stop there, it keeps on going, counting hours that don’t exist and he wails as he realises that his god has deserted him.

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If you have a Horse_Story of your own I’d love to read it! Link me below!