'Danger to life' and major incident declared as Storm Ciara batters UK

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Neil Connery

Storm Ciara continues to batter the UK with widespread flooding, severe gales and winds of more than 90 miles per hour, as flights, trains, ferries and sporting fixtures have been cancelled.

Thousands of people were left without power, some homes were evacuated and buildings were damaged as heavy rain and strong gusts swept across the country on Sunday.

Domestic and international flights have been cancelled and train companies urged passengers not to travel, with ferry travel also affected.

Gusts of 97 miles per hour were recorded on the Isle of White, with 93 miles per hour winds hitting Aberdaron, a village at the tip of the Llyn Peninsula and widespread flooding in north-west England.

More than 190 flood warnings were issued by the Environment Agency - a severe flood warning at Pateley Bridge, in North Yorkshire has been stood down, but around 200 alerts, indicating flooding is possible, are still in place.

Storm Ciara has wrought travel chaos across the UK. Credit: Twitter/South Shore Fire/Network Rail/PA

Met Office amber and yellow weather warnings remain in force across the whole of the UK, as forecasters warn flying debris could lead to injuries or endanger lives.

Appleby in Cumbria was hit by severe flooding after the River Eden burst its banks, with residents battling to save their homes.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service urged people not to drive through floodwater after they rescued a number of motorists.

While police forces across the country advised people to stay off the roads.

Around 177mm of rain fell in Honister Pass, in Cumbria, in the 24 hours to 4pm on Sunday – around one-and-a-half times the average February rainfall of 112mm.

In Lancashire, a major incident has been declared due to the volume of weather-related events across the county, where firefighters received 311 calls, including 192 related to flooding.

Flooded streets in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

In Scotland, three people were injured after part of a pub roof collapsed in Perth on Saturday evening.

Part of a hotel collapsed into a river as Storm Ciara battered Scotland with high winds and heavy rain.

A section of the Bridge House Guest House and Sonia’s Bistro in Hawick in the Scottish Borders fell into the water below on Sunday afternoon.

Emergency services said the building on Sandbed had been evacuated and there were no reports of any injuries.

In Flitwick, Bedfordshire, a man was lucky to escape with only minor injuries after a tree fell on his car and left him trapped for more than an hour.

A stand at Wisbech Town FC’s Fenland Stadium, in Cambridgeshire, collapsed on Sunday due to powerful winds.

While a surfer was rescued from rough seas after losing his board following a search by rescue teams from HM Coastguard and the RNLI off the coast of Hastings, East Sussex.

The driver of this car was lucky to only suffer minor injuries in Bedforshire. Credit: Twitter/Beds, Cambs & Herts Roads Policing Unit
Damage to one of the stands at Wisbech Town Football Club in Cambridgeshire. Credit: PA

Flooding in Calder Valley in north-west England is said to be worse than Boxing Day 2015, as Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd has been battered by severe rain.

Chris Wilding, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said the public body urged "people in at-risk areas to remain vigilant."

"Minor coastal flooding impacts are also possible for parts of the south, west and north-east England coast, where high tides, large waves and coastal gales combine," he added.

"We advise people to check their flood risk, stay safe and avoid activities such as storm selfies."

While in London, a crane was bent over by high winds "like it's made of spaghetti", according to one witness.

Lindsey Wells took a picture of the crane by Stanmore tube station at just after 11am and said two fire engines were in attendance.

The 36-year-old local resident said: "(It) looks like it's made of spaghetti. It's lucky it wasn't during the week, as it's a very busy, big development."

In Ireland, an estimated 10,000 homes, farms and businesses were left without power at the height of the storm.

Firefighters in Blackpool had to rescue a motorist whose car got stuck in deep floodwater.

A motorist had to be rescued in Blackpool. Credit: @Sth_Shore_Fire/Twitter

A Twitter user in north Wales shared footage of rough seas flooding roads and bringing water to his front door on Tremadoc Bay in Criccieth, Gwynedd.

"This is quite an exceptional storm and I haven't seen wind this strong for quite a few years," 58-year-old company director Gethin Jones said.

Flights to and from major UK airports were cancelled and disrupted, including Qantas flight QF10, which returned to Heathrow after experiencing a suspected tailstrike during take-off.

Engineers found no damage to the fuselage of the Boeing 747, but the flight to Perth was cancelled because of limits on the crew members’ flying time, the airline said.

A passenger on a flight from Florida said the plane’s landing at Gatwick Airport on Sunday morning was aborted three times before finally landing on its fourth attempt.

Keith McDowall, 90, from Islington in north London,said: “I’ve never had anything quite like it. I admit I was scared.

“It (the plane) was veering around and it kept shaking.

“The pilot did a very good job to land it.”

But strong tailwinds as Storm Ciara blew in saw British Airways break the record for the fastest flight by a conventional airliner from New York to London.

The BA112 flight, which took off from John F Kennedy airport, was scheduled to land at Heathrow at 6.25am on Sunday but arrived 102 minutes early at 4.43am.

A fallen tree in the Longlevens area of Gloucester. Credit: PA

Train firms including Caledonian Sleeper, Gatwick Express, Grand Central, Great Northern, Hull Trains, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, Southern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express, issued “do not travel” warnings.

And there was widespread disruption across the network as rail companies in England, Scotland and Wales operated with reduced timetables and speed restrictions in place throughout Sunday.

London Euston was forced to close its entrance in a bid to prevent overcrowding.

A train was sent to rescue stranded passengers in Swanley, Kent, after a Southeastern service from Faversham to Victoria was blocked by a fallen tree.

In London, South East services into the capital were disrupted after a trampoline blew onto the train tracks in Chelsfield, south London.

The entrance to London Euston was closed in a bid to prevent overcrowding. Credit: Twitter/Network Rail Euston

Avanti West Coast said no trains will run north of Preston on Sunday until further notice because of the impact of Storm Ciara.

Strong winds have the potential to damage overhead electrical wires and tracks due to debris or falling trees and the disruption could continue into Monday morning as repair work may be hampered by the conditions.

The Queen did not attend church in Sandringham due to high winds in the area.

The Humber Bridge was closed entirely for only the second time in its history, according to its website.

And London’s eight Royal Parks, which include Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, were all closed on Sunday.

Storm Ciara also disrupted Sunday's sporting programme, as horse racing, rugby union, rugby league and football fixtures, including the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham in Manchester, were all postponed.

Super League rugby games between Huddersfield and Leeds and Wakefield and Catalans Dragons have also been postponed due to the weather, the clubs have announced

Waves crash into the wall at Newhaven in East Sussex, as Storm Ciara hits the UK. Credit: PA

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “Even through the early hours of Monday and throughout the day, it’s going to be windy.

“We have further warnings, there will be further showers and snow.

“While Storm Ciara is clearing away, that doesn’t mean we’re entering a quieter period of weather. It’s going to stay very unsettled.”

Strong gusts are expected to continue to hit Northern Ireland and most of Scotland after the storm has moved away on Monday with heavy snow also predicted and yellow warnings are in place for the regions until midday on Wednesday.

The Met Office has also issued a yellow warning of snow and ice for north-west England for Monday and Tuesday, and a yellow warning for wind in the south is in place between 10am and 7pm on Monday.