Severe disruption as Storm Ciara brings flooding and 90mph winds to UK

Widespread flooding and winds of more than 90 miles per hour have caused severe disruption as Storm Ciara batters the UK.

Dozens of domestic and international flights have been cancelled and train companies urged passengers not to travel.

Ferries have also been affected, while drivers faced treacherous conditions with floodwater, fallen trees and other debris closing roads.

Sunday's sporting programme was also disrupted, as horse racing, rugby union, rugby league and football fixtures, including the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham in Manchester, were all postponed.

Met Office amber and yellow weather warnings remain in force until 9pm on Sunday, as forecasters warn flying debris could lead to injuries or endanger lives.

Gusts of 93 miles per hour were recorded in Aberdaron, a village at the tip of the Llyn Peninsula, in north Wales, while Cumbria saw 151.8mm of rain in 24 hours.

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The town of Appleby-in-Westmorland in the county was hit by severe flooding as the River Eden burst its banks, with residents battling to protect their homes.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service urged people not to drive through floodwater after they rescued a number of motorists, while police forces across the country advised people to stay off the roads.

More than 200 flood warnings have been issued, including one rated severe at Pateley Bridge, in North Yorkshire, meaning there is a danger to life, along with around 200 alerts.

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Chris Wilding, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: "Some significant river flooding is possible across parts of the north of England today due to heavy, persistent rain and severe gale force winds associated with Storm Ciara.

"We urge people in at-risk areas to remain vigilant.

"Minor coastal flooding impacts are also possible for parts of the south, west and north-east England coast, where high tides, large waves and coastal gales combine.

"We advise people to check their flood risk, stay safe and avoid activities such as storm selfies."

Traffic passes through water on the A66 near Bowes in County Durham
Traffic passes through water on the A66 near Bowes in County Durham

Firefighters in Blackpool had to rescue a motorist whose car got stuck in deep floodwater and a man escaped with minor injuries after being trapped for over an hour when a tree fell on a car in Flitwick, Bedfordshire.

A surfer was rescued from rough seas after losing his board following a search by rescue teams from HM Coastguard and the RNLI off the coast of Hastings, East Sussex.

Three people were injured after part of a pub roof collapsed in Perth on Saturday evening and a stand at Wisbech Town FC's Fenland Stadium, in Cambridgeshire, collapsed due to powerful winds.

In London, a crane was bent over by gusts "like it's made of spaghetti", according to Lindsey Wells, 36, who pictured the damage near Stanmore Tube station.

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A North Wales Twitter user shared footage of rough seas flooding roads and bringing water to his front door on Tremadoc Bay in Criccieth, Gwynedd.

"This is quite an exceptional storm and I haven't seen wind this strong for quite a few years," 58-year-old company director Gethin Jones told the PA news agency.

Flights to and from major UK airports were cancelled and disrupted, including Qantas flight QF10, which returned to Heathrow after experiencing a suspected tailstrike during takeoff.

Engineers found no damage to the fuselage of the Boeing 747, but the flight to Perth was cancelled because of limits on the crews flying time, the airline said.

A passenger on a flight from Florida said the plane's landing at Gatwick Airport on Sunday morning was aborted three times before finally landing on its fourth attempt.

Keith McDowall, 90, from Islington in north London, told PA: "I've never had anything quite like it. I admit I was scared.

"It (the plane) was veering around and it kept shaking.

"The pilot did a very good job to land it."

But strong tailwinds as Storm Ciara blew in saw British Airways break the record for the fastest flight by a conventional airliner from New York to London.

The BA112 flight, which took off from John F Kennedy airport, was scheduled to land at Heathrow at 6.25am on Sunday but arrived 102 minutes early at 4.43am.

Train firms including Caledonian Sleeper, Gatwick Express, Grand Central, Great Northern, Hull Trains, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, Southern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express, issued "do not travel" warnings.

And there was widespread disruption across the network as rail companies in England, Scotland and Wales operated with reduced timetables and speed restrictions in place throughout Sunday.

A trampoline blown onto train tracks in Chelsfield, south London, disrupted rail services from the South East into the capital.

Winter weather Feb 9th 2020
Winter weather Feb 9th 2020

Ferries have also been disrupted, as P&O said all services at the Port of Dover were suspended due to strong winds and Mersey Ferries cancelled all services until further notice.

The Humber Bridge was closed entirely for only the second time in its history, according to its website.

The Queen did not attend church in Sandringham due to high winds in the area.

And London's eight Royal Parks, which include Hyde Park and Regent's Park, were all closed on Sunday.

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The London Winter Run 10k event, due to be attended by 25,000 runners, was cancelled after organisers said they were "not able to guarantee the safety of our runners, crew and volunteers".

The Met Office has an amber warning for wind in place for much of England and Wales from 8am until 9pm, while an amber warning for rain applies to parts of Scotland.

Yellow weather warnings cover the whole UK with the heaviest rain expected over high ground.

Met Office meteorologist Helen Roberts said the gusts of between 60 and 70mph inland are "quite exceptional", with the worst of the weather likely to hit before 6pm.

Winter weather
Winter weather

"As well as the strength of the wind there is the rain to come today," she said.

"So far, we have seen some impact from the rain, which has been heavy and persistent across Northern Ireland and northern England in the last 24 hours.

"It is likely we will see further impact from the wind such as falling debris, roof tiles coming off, branches and trees down, with disruption to travel as well."

Strong gusts will continue to hit Northern Ireland and most of Scotland after the storm has moved away on Monday with heavy snow also predicted and a yellow warning in place for the regions until Wednesday.

The Met Office has also issued a yellow warning of snow and ice for North West England for Monday and Tuesday, and a yellow warning for wind in the south is in place between 10am and 5pm.