The Met Office has issued a “danger to life” amber weather warning for parts of the UK with Storm Ciara barrelling towards Britain and set to batter the country with gales, gusts and “thundersnow” causing chaos and disruption.
“Injuries and danger to life from flying debris” is possible right across the country, warns the Met Office, predicting gusts reaching as high as 70-80 mph (110-130kmh) in parts of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, where the amber warning has been put in place.
People in coastal areas are being warned of the threat to life from large waves and the whole of the UK has been issued with a yellow weather warning as gusts of 50-60mph (80-100 kmh) are expected.
Forecasters have warned of power outages and damage to buildings as gales ravage the country when Storm Ciara hits on Saturday night and continues through Sunday.
‘Only travel by train this Sunday if absolutely necessary’
Travellers have been advised to expect delays or cancellations to trains, planes, ferries and buses, and possible road closures caused by high winds, falling trees and flying debris damaging roads, train tracks, overhead wires, and transport infrastructure.
Several rail firms have already announced the cancellation of some services and reduced timetables. Speed restrictions of 50mph are already in place (Saturday afternoon) on the London-Scotland east coast line, meaning half of the services have been cancelled.
Network Rail issued an alert to passengers: “Only travel by train this Sunday if absolutely necessary” and advised passengers to check their trains are running tomorrow (Sunday) and Monday in the event of cancellations and disruptions caused by storm damage. They also appealed to residents living near train lines to secure their garden furniture and trampolines ahead of the storm.
Thundersnow could follow Ciara
Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said in the Guardian: “With 60 hours of wind, there will be blizzard-like conditions in the new working week…Although Storm Ciara will clear the UK late on Sunday, the unsettled and disruptive weather will continue into the new working week.”
Partridge warned “thundersnow” could follow Ciara in parts of Northern Ireland and western Scotland, telling the Independent: “At times you could see a few thundery snow showers too. Thundersnow is exactly the same as any thunderstorm but snow falls instead of rain.”
Sporting events have been cancelled including the Scunthorpe Valentines 10k race and half-marathons in Llanelli (Wales) and Deal (Kent) cancelled. As too, the London Winter Run 10km event whose organisers told the 25,000 runners expected to participate , the had to cancel because they were “not able to guarantee the safety of our runners, crew and volunteers.”
‘Gusts of 50-60mph regardless of where you are’
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Guy Addington, said: “This rough weather could make visiting our coasts around the UK and Ireland treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.
“Sadly, around 150 people accidentally lose their lives around UK and Irish waters each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.”
Met forecaster Partridge said: “It will be a wet and windy day across the whole of the UK on Sunday…The whole of the UK is covered with yellow wind warnings, which means gusts of 50-60mph regardless of where you are, and potentially up to 70mph in coastal areas.”