1968 Hurricane
Synoptic chart of storm by Met Office
TypeEuropean windstorm
Extratropical cyclone
Formed12 January 1968
Dissipated18 January 1968
Highest gust134 mph (216 km/h)[1]
Lowest pressure956 mb (28.2 inHg)
Fatalities28 dead (56 injured)[3][4][5]
Damage£30 million (1968 GBP)[2]
Areas affectedScotland, England, Northern Ireland, Denmark

The 1968 Hurricane (or Hurricane Low Q)[1][2] was a deadly storm that moved through the Central Belt of Scotland during mid January 1968. It was described as Central Scotland's worst natural disaster since records began and the worst gale in the United Kingdom.[2][3][6] Some said that the damage resembled what happened during the Clydebank Blitz in 1941.[4] 20 people died from the storm, with 9 dead in Glasgow.[7] 700 people were left homeless.[8] Such high wind speeds in an urban area were equivalent to those witnessed in Paris during Cyclone Lothar in 1999.[9]

A 134 mph (216 km/h) wind gust was recorded at Great Dun Fell in Cumbria, England.[citation needed] At the time this was the strongest wind gust ever recorded in the United Kingdom,[10] though this was superseded in 1986 when a 173 mph (278 km/h) gust was recorded at Cairn Gorm.[11]

Meteorological history

The origins of this violent storm appear to be from a cold front near Bermuda on 13 January 1968.[3] The system moved north of the Azores the next day and still appeared as a shallow low pressure area. In the next 24 hours, this low explosively deepened 50 millibars to 956 mb (28.2 inHg) and passed over Central Scotland.[3][12] The storm continued to move over Northern Europe before dissipating on 18 January 1968.


United Kingdom

15 January 1968 began as a mild day, then temperatures grew cooler as the day progressed.[7] The highest temperature on that day was 11.8 °C (53.2 °F) at St. James's Park, London and the lowest was 5.1 °C (41.2 °F) at Lerwick, Shetland.[7] The most rainfall on 15 January in the British Isles was 24.9 mm (0.98 in) at South Barrule.[7] In Glasgow alone, over 300 houses were destroyed and 70,000 homes were damaged.[1] Due to the strong winds, half of Glasgow's council houses were damaged.[6] Many people evacuated the then Europe's tallest flats as they began swaying.[13] Officials said at least seven ships sank or went adrift in the river Clyde causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage.[6] Off the east coast of Scotland, a drilling rig called Sea Quest was set adrift in rough seas.[3] Over a thousand mature trees were downed in the Central Belt, as well as power lines.[3] In total the storm felled 8,000 hectares of forest across Scotland (1.6 million cubic metres of timber).[14] A Glasgow police spokesman said that it was 'absolute havoc' in the city.[15] Electrical power also failed in Glasgow, leaving the whole city in darkness.[5]

In England and Wales, a five-day freeze ended with some roads flooded by up to 3 ft (91 cm) of water.[16] Large waves pounded the English Channel coastline.[5]

Wind speeds

Measuring station Wind gust
Great Dun Fell 134 mph (216 km/h)
Tiree 118 mph (190 km/h)
Bell Rock 111 mph (179 km/h)
Cairn Gorm 107 mph (172 km/h)
Leuchars 106 mph (171 km/h)
Turnhouse 104 mph (167 km/h)
Abbotsinch 103 mph (166 km/h)
Copenhagen 92 mph (148 km/h)
Source: Met Office and the Danish Met Service[7]

Rest of Europe

In Denmark, officials in Copenhagen said that eight people died in the country from the storm.[4][17]


After the storm moved away, the death toll continued to rise. 30 people died from repairing houses.[2] On 16 January 1968, about 150 troops from Edinburgh came to Glasgow to help with the clean-up operation.[13] There was little national press coverage of the storm, despite it affecting most of northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. An interest-free loan of £500,000 was given by the Labour Government to the affected areas.[1][2] Singer Frankie Vaughan began to raise funds for the victims of the storm by holding a special concert at Alhambra Theatre in Glasgow.[13]

After the devastation of the storm in the area, the Glasgow City Council quickly imposed a new policy to improve housing in the city.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Destroyed by a devastating blow EVENT: Hurricane Low Q, January 1968". Herald Scotland. 5 January 2002. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Great Storm of 1968". SunnyGovan. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "The Glasgow 'Hurricane'". Weatheronline. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "New Killer Gusts Rush Britain". The Milwaukee Journal. 16 January 1968. Retrieved 20 March 2012. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c "Storms Bring Death and Chaos". The Montreal Gazette. 16 January 1968. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "20 dead: Scots start mop-up". The Age. 17 January 1968. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Great Glasgow Storm – Monday 15 January 1968" (PDF). Met Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Winds Batter Scotland; Toll Is 20 – Glasgow Hard Hit – Snow Falls in Mideast Storms Lash Europe, Mideast; Scotland Hard Hit". The New York Times. 16 January 1968. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  9. ^ Cusack, Stephen (12 January 2018). "The "Glasgow Hurricane": A Fifty-year Retrospective". www.rms.com. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  10. ^ "High Winds Threaten Britain". Reading Eagle. 16 January 1968. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Weather extremes". Met Office. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  12. ^ Tranter, Penny; Galvin, Jim (February 2018). "Fifty years on from the Great Glasgow Storm… What have we learned from powerful storms since then?". Weather. 73 (2): 39–45. Bibcode:2018Wthr...73...39T. doi:10.1002/wea.3218. S2CID 126101063.
  13. ^ a b c "Glasgow's Devastating Hurricane". Evening Times. Archived from the original on 2013-04-20. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Growing in the wind". New Scientist. 21 January 1988. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  15. ^ "Snow Storms and Wind Cause Misery in Europe". Lawrence Journal-World. 15 January 1968. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  16. ^ "Killer Storms Pound Europe, Batter Mideast". The Modesto Bee. 15 January 1968. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  17. ^ "Second Gale Nears U.K." The Sun (Vancouver). 16 January 1968. Retrieved 20 March 2012.