Storm Eleanor smashes into UK leaving thousands without power and closing motorways
Thousands of people have been left without power and commuters face traffic chaos this morning after Storm Eleanor arrived in Britain.
Hurricane-force winds of up to 97mph and torrential rain meant many people across the country suffered sleepless nights.
Trees were uprooted in many parts of the country, including onto the M25 between junctions 17 and 18 – which remains partially closed as teams work to remove the obstacle.
Motorists have been warned to avoid all but essential travel.
A yellow ‘danger to life’ weather warning remains in place in several parts of the UK until 6pm today with the Met Office predicting strong winds to continue.
Bridges are likely to be closed and power cuts are expected to continue and there will be a risk of ‘injuries from flying debris’ the Met Office warns.
In England nearly 2,000 homes have been hit by power cuts in the Midlands, as well as around 700 in the South West and 460 in Wales.
Around 22,000 houses in Northern Ireland lost power. Northern Ireland Electricity Networks said it restored supply to 10,000 properties last night but another 12,000 would remain without power into the morning.
A spokesman said: ‘It’s very difficult to make repairs because we have to think about the safety of our employees, most repairs will start at first light.’
London experienced surges of 60mph with the winds potentially causing havoc for commuters tackling public transport this morning.
Elsewhere on the roads the Northbound carriageway of the M5 is closed between junctions six and five due to an overturned vehicle.
On the A1M the Northbound lane is closed at junction four after a vehicle overturned on a sliproad.
The Severn Crossing between Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire on the M48 closed between junctions one and two due to high winds.
Motorists are advised to use the M4 Second Severn Crossing for South Wales.
The A14 is closed in both directions between junctions 56 and 57 due to high winds on the Orwell Bridge. Traffic is being diverted through Ipswich.
Vince Crane, of the AA, advised drivers to take extra care in the worsening conditions.
He said: ‘Road conditions can quickly deteriorate during very heavy rainfall, with drains becoming swamped or blocked and standing water causing surface spray, reduced visibility and potentially leading to flooding.
‘Drivers will need to take extra care and expect delays, even on motorways.
‘Strong or sudden gusts of wind are more likely on open stretches of road, when passing bridges or gaps in hedges, or when overtaking high-sided vehicles.’
#A282/#M25 north J1a-J31 #Dartford Tunnels. The right (east tunnel) will remain closed through the morning. This is due to high possibility of QEII Bridge needing to be closed for strong winds. The east tunnel would be used for southbound traffic in such a situation. #Dartcharge.
— Highways England (@HighwaysSEAST) January 3, 2018
Storm Eleanor is going to continue throughout Wednesday. Some areas of Cheshire are affecdted by the high winds and in some places low level flooding. Please take care when using the roads especially those affected by water or by tree debris #StormEleanor#becareful
— Cheshire Police (@cheshirepolice) January 3, 2018
Some western coastal communities will be affected by large waves and spray from the sea and ‘there is a chance that injuries and danger to life could occur from large waves’ the forecaster has warned.
The Environment Agency issued 65 flood warnings and dozens of alerts across the country.
Gusts of nearly 100mph were recorded near Connaught airport in Mayo, Southern Ireland, while the highest recorded winds in Britain hit Aberdaron in west Wales reaching 76mph.
As the storm spread from Ireland into the north of England and the South East, yellow warnings were issued across Britain and amber wind warnings were issued for parts of Northern Ireland.
Many people took to Twitter to share their experiences of sleepless nights as howling winds threatened to uproot trees and dislodge roof tiles.
— Grace (@gracemariex) January 3, 2018
Cheers Storm Eleanor for keeping me up most the night
— Olly Howarth (@BCFC_Olly_KRO) January 3, 2018
Storm Eleanor has successfully kept me awake for the vast majority of the night. I can actually recall seeing the time on my clock every 15 minutes between 11pm and 4am. Today is going to be very difficult.
— Jen Adams (@jenadamspsy) January 3, 2018
Storm Eleanor can just go and do one…didnt get a wink last night! Hello suitcases under eyes here #stormeleanor
— Nikki Philpott (@Nikkiphilpott3) January 3, 2018
Met Office meteorologist Emma Sharples said: ‘There is likely to be some disruption possibly to public transport, bridges and other public services such as mobile phones and people need to be aware that there could be debris as well.’
In Wales, people have been advised to keep a safe distance from the sea as Natural Resources Wales (NRW) issued a series of flood warnings for the south-east, south-west and north coasts.
Ceri Jones, from NRW, said: ‘Large waves could overtop defences and throw up debris – this could easily cause injury or knock you off your feet.’
Pembrokeshire County Council also issued a warning for several areas, including Amroth and Newgale, where overtopping waves could cause disruption.