ILC ARTICLE

‘Storm of the century’ batters UK, as Storm Ciara brings floods and 97mph winds


The weather warnings that were issued for most of the country made it unusual.

The UK was battered by Storm Ciara as winds reached 97mph and flooding caused disruption with forecasters dubbing it the “biggest storm this century”.

Helen Roberts, a senior meteorologist with the Met Office, said: “In terms of area this is probably the biggest storm this century. I have not seen amber warnings on this scale, across all of Wales and much of England.

“The yellow wind warnings cover the whole of the UK. This could end up being the biggest storm since 1987.” Wind speeds in the 1987 storm reached up to 100mph.

Chaos

The highest wind speed yesterday was recorded at the Needles off the Isle of Wight with gusts of 97mph, the Met Office said.

Transport was thrown into chaos by the gales, rain and flooding. Airlines cancelled and diverted hundreds of domestic and international flights.

British Airways cancelled flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City, while Virgin Atlantic also cancelled a number of flights.

Several rail firms across England, Scotland and Wales advised passengers not to travel. Network Rail imposed a blanket speed restriction of 50mph across the network.

Travel disruption

High levels of disruption resulted in London’s Euston station and Edinburgh’s Waverley closing for a period because of overcrowding.

Downed trees blocked lines across the UK. In Chelsfield, south London, a trampoline blown on to tracks disrupted rail services from the South East into the capital.

Heathrow Airport said it was operating a reduced timetable to minimise the number of flights cancelled at short notice.

The high winds and rain also caused hazardous conditions for drivers, with a lorry overturning on the M1.

Floodwater, fallen trees and other debris caused road closures. The M11 was closed in both directions over fears that a hangar roof at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire would blow away in the high winds.

The RAC spokesman Simon William said the hazardous driving conditions made it a “Black Sunday” for travel.

There was also disruption on ferries with delays and cancellations.

Power cuts

Across the UK yesterday around 118,000 people were at one point left without power. Energy companies said they had reconnected 421,000 customers since the storm hit.

In Perth, Scotland, three people were injured after part of a pub roof collapsed. In East Sussex, a surfer was rescued from rough seas after losing his board following a search by rescue teams from HM Coastguard and the RNLI off Hastings.

Striking images of the storm damage emerged including a crane bent over “like spaghetti” by the strong winds in Stanmore, north London.

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