17 February 2022

Highest weather alert issued of ‘danger to life’ as UK braces for Storm Eunice

17 February 2022

The Met Office has issued the highest level of alert for Storm Eunice, warning there could be a “danger to life” as a result of extremely strong winds.

The red weather warning, meaning a high impact is very likely, covers the coastline of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset as well as the south coast of Wales and will be in effect from 7am until 12pm on Friday.

It warns of “flying debris resulting in danger to life” and “damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down”.

Other threats include roads, bridges and railway lines being closed with delays and cancellations to public transport, ferry services and flights, and large waves plus “beach material” being thrown on to coastal roads, seafronts and homes, which could result in flooding for some coastal properties.

Uprooted trees are likely, while people could also have power cuts which could affect their mobile phone coverage, the Met Office said.

In Cornwall, residents are being urged to take precautions and only travel if absolutely necessary while people in north Somerset are being encouraged to stay at home.

Red warnings are issued rarely, with the last one in November 2021 ahead of the arrival of Storm Arwen, which saw very strong winds batter areas on the east coast of Scotland and north-east coast of England.

Several red warnings were issued in late February and early March 2018 during the so-called “Beast from the East”, the storm that brought widespread heavy snow and freezing temperatures to many parts of the UK.

Storm Eunice is predicted to bring in winds around 90mph in coastal areas while inland parts could still see gusts up to 80mph.

The Met Office has warned large waves and “beach material” could be thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and homes as a result of Storm Eunice (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

Amber warnings, the second highest alert level, for wind are in place across the whole of England while yellow weather warnings, the next level down, for wind and snow are in force for a large part of Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland.

The Cobra emergency committee will meet on Thursday “to discuss the response to Storm Dudley and Storm Eunice”, the Government said.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis will lead the meeting.

Ministers have been urged to ensure the Cobra meeting results in an emergency support plan to deal with power cuts.

Energy networks have said they are preparing for power outages caused by the storm.

The Energy Networks Association said almost all properties affected by power outages from Storm Dudley have now been reconnected.

Ross Easton, from the Association, which represents the UK’s energy network operators, said: “With either a yellow, amber or red ‘risk to life’ warning now in force across a large part of the UK tomorrow, we are reiterating our safety advice.

“If you come across fallen power lines or damage to the electricity network, stay well clear and call 105 for free to report it. In Northern Ireland the number is 03457 643 643.

“If there is an immediate risk to life or someone is in danger, dial 999.

“The energy networks are moving teams and equipment to strategic locations, ready to respond if needed. We are contacting customers in vulnerable situations to ensure they’re aware of the warnings in place and informed about what to do.”

It’s vitally important drivers don’t set out during Storm Eunice unless it can’t be avoided

Householders in the storm’s path are advised to charge up mobile phones and portable chargers, call 105 or use a mobile for updates if you have a power cut, keep a torch charged and make sure vulnerable friends, family and neighbours are prepared.

National Rail has told travellers to check and see if their trains are delayed or cancelled if they are travelling on Friday as several train operators are expected to have their services affected.

The RAC has urged motorists not to drive during Storm Eunice unless it is absolutely necessary.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With a rare red weather warning for extreme winds in place tomorrow, safety on the roads will be paramount. It’s vitally important drivers don’t set out during Storm Eunice unless it can’t be avoided.

“It might be better to make trips today or delay them until the worst of the storm has passed. Drivers who make unnecessary journeys risk putting themselves and their passengers in danger, as well as the lives of anyone who may need to help them should something unwanted happen.

“People who can work from home tomorrow should definitely do so, and we also urge people not to be tempted to drive to the coast to take photos of the extreme conditions.”

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