The UK’s Met Office on Friday morning extended its rare ‘life-threatening’ weather warning to include most of southern England and part of Wales, before Eunice ramped up with winds reaching 122 miles per hour (mph), the fastest ever in England. High wind speeds are what make windstorms intense.
Footage shared on social media showed the roof of London’s O2 arena badly damaged by high winds.
Large sections of the canvas roof were shredded and torn off by the gusts, while the building was evacuated and closed.
On its website, the 02 said an event at the venue on Friday evening would be postponed.
“The safety of our visitors remains of paramount importance, and we will continue to assess the current situation and act accordingly,” the statement said.
Elsewhere, a CNN reporter saw part of a roof fly off a house in south-west London, Surbiton. The roof crushed a car parked on the street.
Video on social media showed a building housing lifeboats with part of its roof blown off on Sennen Beach in the Cornwall country, where high winds were pushing waves over a sea wall. Police in Cornwall and neighboring Devon said they received a large number of calls about flying debris, collapsed roofs and fallen trees.
Other video footage shared on Twitter showed a church spire in Somerset collapsing in high winds.
People in the UK have also posted images of collapsed fences and trees on the roads on social media.
As dozens of flights were canceled at major London airports, more than 200,000 people tuned in to watch a YouTube live stream of planes landing at London’s Heathrow. The plane was seen battling heavy gusts as it came in to land, some of them teetering in the air, others skidding from side to side once they came hit the track.
The video, which aired on Big Jet TV, was accompanied by a comedic commentary from presenter Jerry Dyer, who entertained viewers by offering words of encouragement to the pilots, saying at one point, “Come on buddy, you can do it!”
British Airways said it was grounding a number of planes and expected “significant disruption” but most flights would go ahead as planned.
“Safety is our number one priority and we are canceling a number of flights,” British Airways said in a statement.
The airline said it plans to deploy larger planes where possible to better withstand the weather.
Rail companies have urged customers to reconsider their plans, with blanket speed restrictions in place for most lines across the country.
In a statement on Friday, Network Rail warned of high winds blowing trees and other debris onto railway lines, which then block trains and cause delays and cancellations.
Authorities expect gusts to cause travel delays, power outages and possible mobile phone coverage outages throughout Friday.
A sting jet might hit
A sting jet is a very narrow, concentrated burst of powerful upper-level winds that can form inside powerful weather systems. It descends to the Earth’s surface and can last for a few hours, potentially causing damage to life and property, according to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.
“The ‘sting’ refers to the cloud formation it creates, which resembles a scorpion’s sting,” he said.
Eunice is the second storm in a week for the UK after Storm Dudley hit parts of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland on Wednesday, leaving thousands of homes without power. These houses have since been reconnected.
Hannah Cloke, professor of hydrology at Britain’s University of Reading, urged people to stay at home where possible.
She said people should not take the red alert “lightly” as the winds were likely to uproot trees and roof tiles.
“If you get hit by one, you will be seriously injured or killed. Such a strong wind will blow people and vehicles off the streets and knock down power lines,” she said.
A climate connection?
There is no suggestion of a link between human-caused climate change and the frequency and intensity – or wind speed – of storms in northern Europe at current levels of global warming.
But the damage caused by windstorms continues to worsen as the rainfall associated with them becomes increasingly intense, a trend that many scientific studies link to climate change. Sea level rise also plays a role.
“With more intense rainfall and higher sea levels as human-caused climate change continues to warm the planet, flooding from coastal storm surges and prolonged downpours will become even worse when these storms rare and explosive will hit us in a warmer world,” Richard Allan, a climatologist from the University of Reading, said in a statement.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that if global temperatures increase by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrialization levels, Northern Europe would start to see an increase in the frequency of severe storms Wind.
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