The February heat was unnatural. I used to find wild weather exciting, but now it evokes the apocalypse of climate change
There was a time on these temperate islands when freak weather thrilled us with its bouts of exceptional heat, wind, rain or snow. Unless you were at sea in a gale, fear was a rare emotion. Even in 1987, when the so-called Great Storm hurtled through southern England and northern France on a night in mid-October, it was possible to be more awed than afraid. Crashing branches and tumbling slates woke people, but when they turned to each other in bed it was to exclaim about the wind’s strength – “Would you just listen to that!” – rather than to see it as a portent of something larger or more terrible. Thirty-odd years later, most of the people who lived through the Great Storm remember it mainly because a BBC weatherman got the forecast wrong.
In England, the wind gusted at 120mph that night, and at least 22 people were killed on both sides of the Channel. But unless you were among the bereaved, or had a tall oak fall through the roof, nobody felt anxiety or despair. There was no prevailing gloom.