Storm Eunice kills four as record-breaking gusts batter UK and Ireland
Storm Eunice ripped through the UK, leaving four people dead and causing major disruption across the country - ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports
Four people have been killed and several others injured as Storm Eunice brought damage, disruption and potentially record-breaking gusts of wind to the UK and Ireland.
In the UK, a woman in her 30s died after a tree fell on a car in Haringey, north London, on Friday afternoon. In Liverpool, a man in his 50s died after debris struck his vehicle and a man in his 20s was killed in Hampshire after a car he was a passenger in collided with a tree. Outside of the UK, Ireland was also hit hard by Eunice. A Wexford County Council employee died after attending the scene of a fallen tree earlier on Friday.
The fatalities came as millions of people were urged to stay at home due to safety fears over the impact of Eunice, one of the worst storms to hit the UK in a generation.
Eunice caused injuries, as well as deaths. Police in Wiltshire said a driver was left in “serious condition” and two others were hospitalised after a crash involving a tree. In Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, another member of the public was seriously hurt after being struck by falling debris from a roof.
Two men are also in hospital after being injured in similar, separate incidents in Waterloo and Streatham.
Winds of 122mph have been provisionally recorded at the Needles on the Isle of Wight, which, if verified, would be the highest ever recorded in England.
The Met Office had issued ultra-rare “red” weather warnings for Friday, which have now elapsed. However, Eunice’s impact is expected to continue.
John Curtin, executive director of operations with the Environment Agency, said: “We are not through it yet. We have still got to see Storm Eunice go to the far parts of the coast – Cumbria and Kent. “Then we will be turning our eyes to rivers, especially the River Severn. If you are anywhere near a river, please check your flood risk.”
435,000 households were without electricity on Friday night because of the wind, while the transport network remains severely impacted.
As well as disrupting power supply and travel, Eunice also damaged buildings. In Somerset, the storm was captured toppling a village church spire.
Matt Hodson, who filmed the incident in Wells, told ITV News he captured the "surreal moment" amid "violent winds".
'Surreal' moment village church spire falls
Eunice's wrath was also caught on camera in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where gales tore the roof from a static caravan.
The person recording the video can be heard exclaiming: "There's a roof just gone - look at that! Oh my God. It's gone!"
ITV News Correspondent Dan Hewitt reports on how Wales has been battered by the storm
In London, the storm tore a huge hole in roof of Greenwich's O2 Arena.
Despite such blatant signs of danger. emergency services were forced to issue warnings for people to stay away from the worst-affected areas.
Roy Stokes, from the Environment Agency, said it was “probably the most stupid thing you can do” to travel to the most exposed places, amid reports of people climbing on to seawalls and swimming in the sea.
ITV News' John Ray reports from London, where Eunice has torn a large hole in the O2 Arena's roof
Eunice also caused transport woes across the country. No trains have been scheduled to operate in Wales on Friday and Great Western Railway services from London Paddington have been terminating at Bristol Parkway, instead of continuing to Swansea. Additionally, Southeastern Rail announced it was closing all its main line routes as the storm took hold.
Wind speeds forced both the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge and M48 Severn Bridge into Wales to close to traffic for what is believed to be the first time in history, while the Humber Bridge linking Yorkshire and Lincolnshire closed from 1.30pm.
At least 436 flights to, from or within the UK were cancelled on Friday. According to aviation analytics firm Cirium, Heathrow was the most affected airport as 20% of its flights were cancelled.
As well as travel disruption, many schools which were not already shut for half-term made the decision to close. The majority of schools in Wales, all schools in Somerset and Bristol, and around 40 in Scotland did not open on Friday.
With the storm approaching, some local authorities across the UK activated their Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers. The scheme usually operates when temperatures drop to below freezing.
Storm Eunice brought a blanket of heavy snow across a central belt of Scotland
Two rare weather warnings - one across south-west England and Wales and a second from 10am across the east of England and London - were issued for wind. The Met Office warned there was a risk of “flying debris resulting in danger to life” and “damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down".
Red warnings are not issued often, with the last one in November 2021 ahead of the arrival of Storm Arwen. The storm saw very strong winds batter areas on the east coast of Scotland and north-east coast of England.
The Met Office said Friday was the first time a red weather warning has ever been issued for London or the south-east.
'It's like being hit with shards of glass': ITV News Wales & West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports from the banks of the River Severn in Sharpness, Gloucestershire, where residents are feeling the full force of Storm Eunice
Where have major incidents been declared?
Alongside red weather warnings, a number of authorities and emergency services declared "major incidents".
On Friday afternoon, London Fire Brigade tweeted: "We have declared a major incident in response to the volume of 999 calls being taken about #StormEunice related incidents."
It explained that amid an "exceptionally busy day" for the force, declaring a major incident allowed the brigade to prioritise calls where there is a "risk to life", then attend other calls as "non-emergencies when they can".
For a similar reason, South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Sussex and Surrey, also declared a "critical incident".
This involved SCAS calling in off-duty staff and seeking support from external partners.
Earlier on Friday, Suffolk County Council announced a major incident in preparation for the storm.
What warnings are in place for the weekend ahead?
The Met Office has issued a less-severe yellow wind warning for much of the south coast of England and South Wales on Saturday, which it said “could hamper recovery efforts from Storm Eunice”. Fluvial flooding, which is when the water level in a river, lake or stream rises and overflows, is also likely over the weekend in areas including the Pennines, North Yorkshire, Lancashire and the upper reaches of the River Severn.
This is due to a combination of after-effects of Storm Dudley and snow melt.