Great Storm of 1703
The Great Storm of 1703 was the most severe storm or natural disaster ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain.
It affected southern England and the English Channel in the Kingdom of Great Britain. A 120-mph (193-km/h) "perfect hurricane", it started on 24 November, and did not die down until 2 December 1703 (Old Style).
Observers at the time recorded barometric readings as low as 973 millibars (measured by William Derham in South Essex), but it has been suggested that the storm may have deepened to 950 millibars over the Midlands.
No pen could describe it, nor tongue express it, nor thought conceive it unless by one in the extremity of it”— Daniel Defoe
From midnight until dawn a 'perfect hurricane' raged across the south of England such that in the grey and feeble first light "nobody could believe the hundredth part they saw".
And with good reason for many buildings were in ruins, their roofs missing or they had collapsed completely. Streets were deep in fallen masonry, tiles and chimney stacks. Many thousands of trees lay strewn about as if felled and trampled by a crazed giant, church steeples lay prostate on the ground and over 400 windmills were shattered.
A series of gales had swept Britain from the 19th November [Old Style Calendar]. Defoe himself, almost lost his life in a London street when a chimney plummeted to the ground close to him. The climax came on the night of the 26-27th November , probably as a result of a rapidly deepening secondary low moving north east from South Wales to the Humber in the circulation of a parent depression north of Scotland.
The southern part of Britain was devastated by the most catastrophic storm it had experienced in five hundred years on November 26–27, 1703. Believed to be a revitalized Atlantic hurricane, the storm began as a series of gales earlier in November, and brought with it a prolonged period of unseasonably warm weather and high seas.
A warm front from the hurricane moved from the West Indies, traveled along the coast of Florida, and swept into the Atlantic prior to reaching England.