The Great Storm 20 years on



On 16th October 1987, southern Britain was hit by hurricane force winds, the worst storm to occur in Britain since 1703. Twenty years on, Britain is remembering the devastation caused by what came to be known as 'The Great Storm.' 15 million trees were uprooted due to the wind, as well as the fact that a wet autumn in general had made the ground very muddy.

The falling trees caused destruction to buildings and vehicles, and blocked roads and railway lines, causing everyone from commuters to school-children to stay at home. There were also black-outs across the area, as power lines were damaged by falling trees and flying debris. People resorted to candles and torches for light, and gas stoves and open fires to cook food.

The storm raged for 4 hours before dawn and claimed 18 lives. The effects of the bad weather were heightened by the fact that most people were completely unprepared because the weather forecasters were caught out.

Earlier that week, weather forecasts had predicted severe weather. But forecasters thought it would miss Britain and only affect the English Channel.

The freak storm caused damage of more than £1billion pounds and hundreds of people sustained injuries.

But could the same thing happen today in Britain? Well, as a result of climate change many people think that sudden and severe weather changes are more likely. However, meteorological technology has improved and now uses satellites to get a much more accurate picture of future weather. So if another Great Storm comes along, the British public should be better warned and prepared!

Part A. Reading Comprehension.

I. Answer the following questions using your own words but taking into account the information in the text (2 points: 1 point each)

a) What did the freak storm cause?

b) What does meteorological technology use satellites for?

II. Are the following statements true (T) or false (F)? Identify the part of the text that supports your answer. (1.5 point: 0.5 each)

a. “The Great Storm” refers to the storm which has just hit Britain.

b. Weather forecasts predicted the storm in 1987 with precision.

c. A lot of people think that severe weather changes are improbable.

III. Find a synonym for each of the four words below from these six options: (1 point: 0.25 each)

black out      made worse        uprooted       debris       commuters      caught out

a) taken by surprise

b) pulled out of the ground

c) broken or torn pieces

d) heightened

IV. Choose a, b, or c, in each question below. Only one choice is correct (1.5 points: 0.5 each)

1. The worst storm in Britain…

a) happened in 1987.

b) has happened recently.

c) took place in 1703.

2. Many people in Britain think that…

a) another “Great Storm” is unlikely.

b) severe weather changes are probable.

c) meteorological technology has improved.

3. School children stayed at school…

a) since rail lines and roads had been blocked

b) because of trees which had fallen

c) due to destruction caused by commuters


Part B. Composition (130-150 words approximately). Choose one of the following topics (4 points)

  1. What can we do to stop global warming? (PROBLEM SOLVING)