UK Today

Floods and travel disruption as UK hit by severe gales

Severe gales and heavy rain are sweeping across the UK as travellers face disruption from Storm Ciara.

There is widespread flooding and a severe warning – meaning a danger to life – has been issued for Pateley Bridge, north Yorkshire.

Thousands of people are without electricity and sporting fixtures have been cancelled due to the weather.

Airlines have cancelled dozens of flights, while several rail firms have urged passengers not to travel.

Ferry passengers also face delays and cancellations, while drivers have been warned to take extra care.

Large parts of the UK are covered by an amber warning for very strong winds, with gusts reaching more than 90mph in some places.

Sporting events called off because of the adverse weather include Manchester City’s Premier League match against West Ham.

Western Power Distribution says 12,779 of its customers in the East and West Midlands, the South-West and South Wales do not have any electricity.

In the UK as a whole about 92,000 people were without power as of 13:00 GMT. Energy companies said they had reconnected 189,000 customers since the storm hit and work is continuing to restore electricity to the remaining homes.

One journey was made easier by Storm Ciara, however: a British Airways flight made the fastest subsonic New York to London flight as it rode a jet stream accelerated by the storm.

Storm Ciara arrived in Lyme Regis, Dorset, this morning

The amber warning for wind in place across much of England and Wales until 21:00 GMT means that wind-blown debris and large waves could pose a danger to life.

Yellow weather warnings cover the whole of the UK until midnight on Sunday.

Wales has been hit by some of the the strongest winds so far, with a 93mph gust recorded in Aberdaron, north-west Wales, followed by 86mph in Capel Curig in Snowdonia.

In Perth, three people were hurt after part of a pub roof collapsed, though none were seriously injured

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said the size of the amber warning was very unusual, and showed how widespread the impact of Storm Ciara would be.

“It’s not just coastal parts which are likely to see gusts of 70-80mph, but even inland areas, which don’t usually see those strengths of wind,” he said.

He added that those winds, combined with heavy rain would cause significant problems around the country. Already more than 100mm of rain has fallen in some parts of northern England and north Wales.

More than 250 flood warnings have been issued around the UK – meaning that flooding is expected – with more than 200 in England, more than 60 in Scotland, and 17 in Wales.

The Environment Agency has issued one severe warning for the River Nidd at Pateley Bridge, where the waters are expected to rise to 5.1m, overtopping flood defences and possibly posing a “danger to life”.

A jack-knifed lorry on the M1, as high winds cause problems on the roads

The rail firms which issued “do not travel” warnings for Sunday were Gatwick Express, Grand Central, Great Northern, Hull Trains, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, Southern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express.

Flooding and debris on the tracks have caused delays and cancellations to many services.

Some of the routes affected by the weather include:

Edinburgh Waverley Station – closed to new passengers because of overcrowding
Avanti West Coast – no trains running north of Preston
Grand Central – all services cancelled on Sunday
Cross Country – line blocked between Birmingham New Street and Derby
London Euston temporarily closed due to overcrowding, but reopened within half an hour.

On the roads, the Humber Bridge in East Yorkshire was closed for only the second time in its history. It has reopened to cars, but not to vans or lorries.

The Dartford Crossing in Kent is closed to traffic.

Ferry services have also been affected, with all services suspended at the Port of Dover because of strong winds.

DFDS has also cancelled all its ferries between Newhaven and Dieppe.

A surfer in Hastings who lost his board in powerful waves was rescued by police, coastguard teams, a helicopter and a lifeboat. He had been missing at sea for about an hour.

Elsewhere, firefighters in Blackpool had to rescue a motorist whose car got stuck in floodwater. Blackpool Council tweeted that some properties were being evacuated.

The Queen did not attend church in Sandringham, Norfolk, because of “public safety reasons” due to the weather.

Firefighters in Blackpool rescue a stranded driver

Other effects of the storm include:

Scotland’s Women’s Six Nations match against England has been postponed
Four Women’s Super League matches have been called off, including Liverpool against Everton, where more than 20,000 fans were expected;
Horse racing at Exeter, Southwell and Punchestown has been cancelled
The London Winter Run 10k – due to be attended by 25,000 runners – was cancelled;
London’s eight Royal Parks, which include Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, are closed on Sunday.

What’s the forecast?
Strong gusts of wind are expected to continue to hit Northern Ireland and most of Scotland after the storm has passed on Monday.

The Met Office has issued yellow warnings for Monday for wind and snow in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and snow and ice across north-west England.

The yellow warnings for snow and ice remain in place for much of Scotland, northern Ireland and parts of the north of England on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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