One dead and others injured as 120mph Storm Eunice batters UK and Ireland

The travel network, homes and services were all affected by one of the worst storms in a generation.

18 February 2022

One person has been killed and a handful of others injured as Storm Eunice brought damage, disruption and potentially record-breaking gusts of wind to the UK and Ireland.

Millions of people were urged to stay at home on Friday due to safety fears over the impact of Eunice, one of the worst storms to hit the UK in a generation, while transport woes meant many were unable to travel.

Both of the Met Office’s ultra-rare “red” weather warnings over the impact of extremely strong winds have now elapsed, but Eunice’s impact is expected to continue.

A man in Co Wexford, Ireland, was killed by a falling free, while a member of the public suffered “serious injuries” after being struck by debris from a roof in Henley-on-Thames.

Two men are also in hospital after being injured in similar, separate incidents in south London.

Tens of thousands of homes remain without power, and the transport network remains severely impacted.

Winter weather Feb 18th 2022
People look at the waves in New Brighton, Merseyside (Peter Byrne/PA)

Stefan Laeger, the Environment Agency’s flood duty manager, said: “The public should continue to take extreme caution as ongoing impacts of Storm Eunice have resulted in a storm surge and large waves which could bring potentially severe coastal flooding to parts of the west and south coasts of England today, as well as the tidal rivers Severn and Wye in Gloucestershire.

“Further spells of heavy rain are expected this weekend which will also bring the potential for inland flooding.”

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 previous record was 118mph at Gwennap Head in Cornwall in 1979.

Winter weather Feb 18th 2022
Fallen trees being cleared off the road in Bournemouth, Dorset (Adam Davy/PA)

Around 190,000 customers were without power as of lunchtime, according to the Energy Networks Association, with the vast majority of them in the south west of England.

On the transport network, several routes were closed.

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.

The A6 in Buxton was also closed on Friday afternoon after a lorry blew over, causing minor injuries.

Winter weather Feb 18th 2022
Waves crash into rocks on the coastline of Newquay on the Cornish coast (Matt Keeble/PA)

Train operators across Britain urged passengers to avoid travelling altogether, with no services operating in Wales for the entire day and seven train operators suspending all routes.

P&O Ferries stopped services between Dover and Calais, while dozens of flights were cancelled and hundreds delayed across UK airports.

Elsewhere, Royal Mail said it “had no choice” but to suspend deliveries in parts of the country due to safety concerns.

Winter weather Feb 18th 2022
Emergency services look at the damage to the roof of the O2 Arena (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But despite the chaos – with swirling gusts felling trees, tossing debris in the air, and damaging homes and buildings, including London’s O2 Arena, which was forced to close – 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.

Nevertheless, the Environment Agency said Eunice had “not resulted in the significant impact initially forecast”.

Winter weather Feb 18th 2022
People are hit by water spray in Newquay on the Cornish coast (Matt Keeble/PA)

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”.

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