Thousands have been left without power as Storm Dudley wreaked chaos on roads and to rail and ferry services across Scotland and northern England, with warnings of even more severe weather to come as Storm Eunice sweeps across the UK on Friday.
The Met Office issued “stay indoors” advice, warning of winds of up to 100 mph in places and further disruption to transport, as a clean-up operation was under way in the wake of Storm Dudley.
As Storm Eunice moves in on Friday, an amber warning for wind from 03.00 until 21.00 was issued for much of England and Wales, and for wind and snow in central and southern Scotland from 03.00 until 18.00.
Thousands of homes were left without power in the north-east of England, Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Lancashire as heavy rain and strong winds, gusting to more than 80 mph in places hit on Wednesday, uprooting trees and bringing down power lines.
Northern Powergrid, which maintains electricity networks across northern England, said it had reconnected 10,000 homes within hours, but it could not say when 4,000 more would have power restored. Hundreds more households were left without power across Northern Ireland and Scotland. Gusts of 81mph were recorded in Capel Curig, north Wales, while Emley Moore in West Yorkshire recorded 74mph.
Safety checks were being carried out on rail lines on Thursday morning as Network Rail said it was inspecting more than 1,400 miles of track. Most ScotRail services were withdrawn until around 10am Thursday.
Network Rail’s route director for Scotland, Liam Sumpter, told the BBC: “It was a really tough evening and night for us last night. Storm Dudley hit us really hard. We have numerous reports of trees on the tracks and also damage to overhead lines and even some damage to signalling systems.”
As Storm Dudley moves away through Thursday, giving brief respite, more severe weather is expected to hit as Storm Eunice, described as “quite a potent storm” by BBC Weather, moves across Scotland and the rest of the UK on Friday. The Met Office said conditions could be even more damaging, with stronger winds, heavy snow in parts and possible blizzards in Scotland.
Scotland’s deputy first minister, John Swinney, warned that the coming days would be “very challenging”. He said: “High winds may cause issues on roads and bridges, disruption to power supplies and danger from falling trees.
“We would urge everyone to plan their journeys in advance, exercise caution on the roads, and follow the latest travel advice.”
As ferry services in Scotland were disrupted, Robert Morrison, CalMac’s director of operations, said: “This will be the fourth week of extreme and unprecedented weather disruptions.”
Train services were also disrupted by fallen trees and debris caught in overhead wires. Northern, TransPennine Express, West Midlands Railway and the Tyne and Wear Metro were among those reporting delays and cancellations. In Cardiff, a train named after fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore hit a trampoline.
Coastal areas such as Blackpool also saw choppy seas and large waves, with authorities warning people not to take risks to get a dramatic selfie.
In England, the Environment Agency had two flood warnings in place on Thursday morning at Keswick Campsite and along the Cumbrian coastline from St Bees Head to Millom, along the coast from North Head to Haverigg, and 42 flood alerts, where flooding is possible.