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A rare red weather warning for coastal regions of South Wales and South West England has been issued by the Met Office ahead of what could be the worst storm to hit the UK in 30 years.

Storm Eunice is expected to arrive at 5am on Friday, bringing hazardous and potentially hazardous weather conditions to much of the UK.

Coastal areas of Cornwall, Devon and South Wales will bear the brunt of this, with the red warning in place between 7am and midday. People can expect “life-threatening” flying debris, forecasters said, as well as ripped roofs, power outages, uprooted trees and major travel disruptions.

The warnings came hours after Storm Dudley hit Northern Ireland, northern England and southern Scotland.

Ministers said the Government’s Cobra Emergency Committee, led by Cabinet Minister Michael Ellis, would meet on Thursday ‘to discuss the response to Storm Dudley and Storm Eunice’.

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All of Wales and much of England are expected to be battered by high winds, up to 80mph in places. Northern England, Northern Ireland and southern Scotland can also expect high winds, made worse by the possibility of heavy snowfall and blizzards.

The Met Office issued ‘stay indoors’ advice ahead of the storm.

The cleanup after Dudley continued through Thursday. Thousands of homes were left without power in the North East of England, Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Lancashire due to heavy rain and high winds, blowing at over 80mph in affected locations on Wednesday, uprooting trees and knocking down power lines.

Northern Powergrid, which runs power grids in the north of England, said 20,000 customers had been affected. About 1,200 people were still without power on Thursday morning and a “small number” may not have lights turned on again until Friday.

Hundreds more households were left without power in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Gusts of 81mph were recorded at Capel Curig, North Wales, while Emley Moor in West Yorkshire recorded 74mph.

Safety checks were carried out on railway 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 Most ScotRail services were withdrawn until around 10 a.m. Thursday.

Red life-threatening warning issued ahead of storm Eunice |  Weather United Kingdom
A family on Brighton beach during Storm Dudley. Photography: Victoria Bowden/Rex/Shutterstock

Network Rail’s route director for Scotland, Liam Sumpter, told the BBC: ‘It was a really difficult evening and night for us last night. Storm Dudley hit us really hard. We have many reports of trees on the tracks and also damage to overhead lines and even damage to signal systems.

Cornwall residents have been urged to only travel if absolutely necessary when Storm Eunice hits on Friday.

Cornwall Council said the storm is likely to be as powerful as those that hit the South West in 2014, causing widespread flooding and severe damage to the railway line in Dawlish, Devon.

The council said the whole of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – but in particular the north Cornish coast – could expect winds of up to 100mph, structural damage, overturned mobile homes, power failures communication and electricity and fallen trees.

The worst winds are expected to coincide with high spring tides along the Cornish coast around 6am, leading to possible flooding. People are advised to stay away from cliffs and seafronts due to the danger of large waves.

The areas expected to be most affected are St Ives Harbour, Port Isaac and Polzeath.

Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney has warned that the next few days will be “very difficult”. He said: ‘High winds can cause problems on roads and bridges, disruptions to power supplies and the risk of falling trees.

“We urge everyone to plan their trips in advance, exercise caution on the roads and follow the latest travel advice.”

Red life-threatening warning issued ahead of storm Eunice |  Weather United Kingdom
An empty departure board at Glasgow Central Station. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

Rail services were also disrupted by fallen trees and debris caught in overhead wires. Northern, TransPennine Express, West Midlands Railway and Tyne and Wear Underground were among those reporting delays and cancellations. In Cardiff, a train named after fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore hit a trampoline.

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