British army on standby amid 'red weather' warning due to Storm Eunice

Updated on Feb 18, 2022 08:06 AM IST

The Environment Agency issued 10 severe flood warnings for western England, mostly for the Severn estuary, ahead of a potential surge on high tides driven by Eunice's arrival.

This photograph taken on December 10, 2021, shows the Britain flags wave, in the harbour of Ouistreham, northwestern France. (Representational image)(AFP)
This photograph taken on December 10, 2021, shows the Britain flags wave, in the harbour of Ouistreham, northwestern France. (Representational image)(AFP)
AFP |

Britain put the army on standby Thursday and schools prepared to close as forecasters issued a rare "red weather" warning of "danger to life" from fearsome winds and flooding due to an approaching storm.

Storm Eunice is set to make landfall in southwest England Friday morning and move east across the country, after barrelling across the Atlantic packing gusts of up to 100 miles (160 kilometres) per hour.

The Environment Agency issued 10 severe flood warnings for western England, mostly for the Severn estuary, ahead of a potential surge on high tides driven by Eunice's arrival.

The warnings come as separate storms killed at least four people and caused widespread travel disruption in central Europe on Thursday.

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has postponed a Friday trip to South Wales "in the interests of public safety", his office said, while transport operators said all trains in Wales had been cancelled for the day.

The red weather warning, effective from 0700 GMT on Friday, covers the northern coastline of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset in southwest England, as well as the south coast of Wales.

Schools in the affected region of England and Wales announced they would shut for the day, and residents were urged to remain indoors. Heavy snow was also forecast in Scotland and northern England.

- 'Reconsider your plans' -

Eunice is expected to cause "significant disruption and dangerous conditions due to extremely strong winds", the Met Office said.

It said 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".

Ireland's meteorological office also issued an alert for the storm, warning of "severe and damaging winds" and the possibility of coastal flooding in the south.

Another less severe storm, Dudley, caused transport disruption and power outages when it hit Britain on Wednesday, although damage was not widespread.

The UK government on Thursday held a meeting of its emergency "COBR" committee to discuss the response to the two storms.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed sympathy for thousands of residents left without power in northern England by Dudley.

Asked about further support ahead of the arrival of Eunice, he told reporters that "the army is on standby".

Transport companies warned that roads, bridges and railway lines were also likely to be closed, and airports would suffer delays and cancellations.

In England, some rail passengers have already been urged by train operators not to travel on Friday.

"Reconsider your plans if you were due to travel on Friday," Network Rail, which owns and operates Britain's railways, said on Twitter.

In the capital -- where winds could reach 80 miles per hour -- some parks were set to close while the London Eye observation wheel on the south bank of the Thames announced it would close for the day.

Meanwhile, the Dutch flagship airline KLM said it had cancelled 167 flights scheduled for Friday due to the sto. "Due to stormy weather in Amsterdam on Thursday 17 February and Friday 18 February 2022, our flights to, from, or via Amsterdam Airport Schiphol may be disrupted," the company said in a statement.

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