Storm Eunice: at least four dead as worst storm in decades roars in


Millions experienced severe disruption as record-breaking winds from Storm Eunice caused death and injury, huge structural damage, transport chaos and widespread power cuts.

Four people were confirmed to have died in the UK and Ireland by Friday evening. The Met Office said a wind speed of up to 122mph was recorded at the Needles on the Isle of Wight on Friday, provisionally the highest ever in England, and described the storm as the worst since the Burns’ Day storm 32 years ago in which 47 people died.

About a third of the UK population – about 20 million people – were told to stay at home as the Met Office imposed two rare red warnings for much of southern England, south Wales and London.

The disruption closed thousands of schools and businesses. About 435,000 homes were left without power early on Friday evening. Hundreds of train services and flights were cancelled, and major roads closed.

A woman in her 30s was killed when a tree fell on a car in Haringey, north London, while a council employee in his 60s was killed by a falling tree in County Wexford, south-east Ireland, as he worked during the storm.

Later, Merseyside police said a man in his 50s had died in Netherton after debris struck the windscreen of a vehicle he was travelling in. Hampshire constabulary also confirmed that a man in his 20s died when the car he was travelling in hit a tree. A second man is being treated for serious injuries in hospital.

Five people have died in mainland Europe after the storm made landfall there, including a 79-year-old British man in the Belgian city of Ypres.

Buildings ranging from the lifeboat station at Sennen on the western tip of Cornwall to the Millennium Dome in London sustained damage. About 1,000 people were evacuated from the Dome as panels were ripped off by the storm.

The top of a church spire in Wells, Somerset, was toppled by gusts and a tower at Grain power station in Kent appeared to have collapsed.

A beloved tree on a square in Bude, north Cornwall, crashed to the ground, one of many hundreds across southern Britain that fell, blocking roads and bringing down power lines.

The UK government’s Cobra civil contingencies committee met to discuss the response and the army was standing by. The London fire brigade and the South Central ambulance service NHS foundation trust declared major incidents.

Before Friday, the strongest gust recorded in England was 118mph at Gwennap Head in Cornwall on 15 December 1979. As well as the 122mph gust on the Isle of Wight, there were blasts of 70-80mph widely across southern Britain.

Tom Morgan, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said better storm tracking and messaging than for the Burns’ Day storm and for the great storm of 1987 meant that people had been better prepared for Storm Eunice.

He said: “It’s been highly publicised and that has meant people have been aware of it. Hopefully, people heeded the warnings and didn’t travel.”

Eunice brought many transport services to a standstill. Trains were cancelled throughout Wales and in other areas, with 50mph speed restrictions in many places. Services into London stations, including Waterloo and later Euston, were suspended for parts of the day.

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Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


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