Satellite image of the hurricane which devastated England in 1987 (Reuters)

2010: the "Big Freeze"
Temperatures dropped as low as -18C, causing widespread disruption. Thousands of schools remained closed and thousands of homes were without power for days.

1989: South Wales
Wind speeds of 124mph recorded in Vale of Glamorgan.

1987: Great Hurricane
Michael Fish laughed off suggestions a hurricane was on the way. A few hours later 22 were dead, 15 million trees uprooted and wind speeds of 122 mph were recorded in Norfolk.

1962/3: the harsh winter
From Boxing Day 1962 to March 1963 much of the UK was covered with snow. In January the sea froze for up to a mile out from Herne Bay and the upper Thames froze over.

Boats in frozen Poole Harbour in 1963 (Met Office)

1953: North Sea flood
A severe windstorm over the North Sea combined with an unusually high spring tide caused a storm surge in both eastern England and Holland. Over 300 people died in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and in Holland around 1,800 died.

1891: Great Blizzard
More than 200 people died and Cornwall and Devon completely cut off from the rest of the country by a great blanket of snow that covered much of the two counties.

1881: Eyemouth Disaster
The southern coast of Berwickshire, Scotland, was struck by a severe windstorm on 14 October 1881, killing 189 fishermen, many from the village of Eyemouth. The event is still referred to locally as "Black Friday".

1703: Great Storm
The Great Storm of 1703 was described as the worst natural disaster ever to hit southern Britain. Between 8,000 and 15,000 lives were lost and the lead roofing was blown off Westminster Abbey.

1607: Bristol floods
Some 2,000 people drowned around the Severn Estuary, with 200 square miles of farmland inundated. Long blamed on a storm surge, it is now suspected that the devastation was caused by a tsunami.

Severn Estuary
Thousands died along the Severn Estuary - but was it a flood or a tsunami? (Wikipedia)

Pre-history: the ice age
No matter how much rain falls tonight, and no matter how hard the wind blows, there is one small consolation: it's unlikely to be as bad as the last ice age, which enveloped the country until around 10,000 years ago. Much of the country was buried beneath glaciers kilometres thick.