Storm Eunice: Four dead as worst storm in a generation leaves trail of destruction

Tens of thousands of homes left without power as record gusts recorded and police inundated with calls

Jane Dalton
Saturday 19 February 2022 02:48 GMT
Footage captures Storm Eunice toppling large tree in Cornwall

At least three people in England and a fourth in Ireland have died after one of the worst storms in a generation brought widespread damage to the UK.

More high winds were set to hamper clear-up efforts on Saturday after Storm Eunice left a trail of destruction and caused travel chaos for millions.

A woman in her 30s died when a tree fell on a car in north London and a driver in his 20s was killed when a large tree fell and crushed his pick-up truck in Hampshire as winds of more than 120mph lashed Britain on Friday.

On Merseyside, a man in his 50s was killed when debris struck the windscreen of a vehicle he was travelling in. Earlier, a man was killed by a falling tree in County Wexford, Ireland.

As the storm bore down on Britain, rail services were halted, schools were closed and hundreds of thousands of homes suffered power cuts after electricity cables came down.

The Met Office said the storm brought what is thought to be the strongest gust ever recorded in England, of 122mph, on the Needles on the Isle of Wight, on Friday morning.

Millions of people were urged to stay at home for the day because of the risks from flying debris and falling trees, while transport cancellations meant many were unable to travel.

Medical appointments were cancelled, lorries toppled over, a power station chimney crashed down and winds tore a huge hole in the roof of London’s O2 arena.

The Met Office had issued two ultra-rare “red” weather warnings, including in the southeast for the first time.

Police forces and local authorities across Britain reported being inundated with phone calls related to the storm. East Sussex County Council had received 97 fallen tree reports by 4pm.

Network Rail cancelled all services in Kent, one of the worst hit areas, warning would-be passengers not to try to travel.

Follow live: Four dead after Storm Eunice batters Britain and Ireland with 122mph winds

High winds 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 during the afternoon.

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

Royal Mail said it had no choice but to suspend deliveries in parts of the UK amid safety concerns.

Forecasters were checking whether the 122mph wind could be a record for England. The previous record was 118mph in Cornwall in 1979.

At least six people were killed elsewhere in Europe as the storm battered the continent.

A council worker in Ireland was killed early in the day when a tree fell on him as he cleared storm debris.

In the Netherlands, three people were killed by falling trees in and around Amsterdam, firefighters said.

A 79-year-old man, reported by local media to be British, died in Belgium after he was blown off his boat into a marina in the town of Ypres during strong winds.

Just after 4pm in north London, police, ambulance and fire crews all rushed to Muswell Hill Road, Haringey, to reports of a tree having toppled onto a car.

The woman passenger was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. The driver, a man also in his 30s, was taken to hospital, but his condition was not believed to be life-threatening.

In the market town of Alton in east Hampshire, a walker said a white van had been struck by a tree so large the vehicle was “hidden” underneath.

“The tree was across his cab, they were big, thick branches. The branches were bigger than some normal-sized trees you see,” the witness said, estimating the tree to be 40ft long.

On Merseyside, a man in his 50s was killed when debris struck the windscreen of a vehicle he was travelling in at Switch Island, Netherton.

South Sefton Police, who were called just after 2.10pm, said they were looking into what happened, appealing for witnesses.

Across Britain, at least three other people were taken to hospital on Friday with injuries caused by falling debris or trees, two in London and one in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

West of England Metro mayor Dan Norris promised to plant three trees for everyone who died because of Storm Eunice.

“While Storm Eunice has caused misery and disruption to daily life, if it can be used as a springboard to get more trees in our region, that would bring a silver lining to its dark storm clouds.”

Emergency services warned people to stay away from the worst-affected areas amid reports of people climbing onto seawalls and swimming in the sea.

Roy Stokes, from the Environment Agency, said travelling to the most exposed places was “probably the most stupid thing you can do”.

Despite the devastation, the Environment Agency said Eunice had not resulted in the significant impact initially forecast.

The Met Office issued a less-severe yellow wind warning for much of the south coast of England and south Wales on Saturday.

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