Storm Eunice batters Britain, sowing chaos with record 122mph winds

ABERYSTWYTH: An Atlantic storm battered Britain and Ireland on Friday with record winds of up to 122mph (196kph), knocking out power for tens of thousands of people, forcing planes to abort landings, uprooting trees and ripping off roofs across the land.

Storm Eunice, which brewed in the central Atlantic and was spun up from the Azores towards Europe by the jet stream, posed a danger to life, Britain's Meteorological Office said.

The storm hit western England, making landfall in Cornwall, where waves lashed the coast, sending plumes of spray over the roofs of cottages, Reuters pictures showed.

In Wales, waves crashed over Aberystwyth promenade, some as high as houses. More than 100,000 people were hit by power cuts as lines were torn down and ancient trees keeled over.

In London, gusts shook tall buildings and blew off parts of the roof of the Millennium Dome, footage posted online showed.

"Storm Eunice is really packing a punch," Met Office chief meteorologist Frank Saunders said. "We only issue red weather warnings when we think there is a threat to life from the weather."

The Met Office said a gust of 196kph was recorded at The Needles on the Isle of Wight, provisionally a record for the most powerful gust ever recorded in England.

Planes were buffeted so strongly by gusts at some airports that pilots were forced to abandon landings. Airlines cancelled dozens of flights while some flights sought safer landings at other airports.

More than 100,000 buildings were left without power, distributors said. Ferries and trains cancelled.

"Storm Eunice – There will be NO Transport for Wales trains running on this date," an announcement board said at Aberystwyth station. All trains in Kent, southern England, were cancelled.

"We are closing all routes in Kent, and all lines in SE London are blocked by trees," Network Rail Kent & Sussex said. "Please do not travel."

British Airways said there it was cancelling a number of flights and that there would be significant disruption.

Danish ferry operator DFDS said in a statement posted on Twitter that its ferries between Dover and Calais have been suspended due to high winds.

Such red warnings are relatively rare. The last one issued was in November 2021. Scotland has issued yellow warnings for heavy snow.

The British government will hold a COBR emergency response meeting to discuss the response to the storm.

Britain's security minister, Damian Hinds, said troops were on standby to deal with the consequences of the weather.

"We should all follow the advice and take precautions to keep safe," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. "I thank responders for all their efforts." – Reuters

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