Millions have hunkered down as Storm Eunice pummelled the southern United Kingdom with fearsome winds and crashing waves, leaving the streets of London virtually deserted and triggering broader warnings in Europe.
The British capital was placed under its first-ever “red” weather warning on Friday, meaning there is “danger to life”, and the same level of alert was in place across southern England and South Wales, where schools were closed and public transport paralysed.
Eunice knocked out power in 55,000 homes and businesses in neighbouring Ireland and hundreds of homes in Cornwall, southwest England, which was hit by gusts of 145km (90 miles) per hour and waves that breached sea walls along the coast.
It accrued power in a “sting jet”, a rarely seen meteorological phenomenon that brought havoc to the UK in the “Great Storm” of 1987, and sparked a red alert in the Netherlands also.
Huge waves battered the Brittany coast in northwest France. Long-distance and regional trains were being gradually halted in northern Germany, while warnings were also in place in Belgium.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has placed the British army on standby, tweeted: “We should all follow the advice and take precautions to keep safe.”
The Met Office, the UK’s meteorological service, said the whole country will be affected and the storm will cause significant disruption.
“The whole of the country will be affected by the extremely strong and damaging winds, which will cause significant disruption,” Met Office forecaster Annie Shuttleworth said.
The agency warned that roofs could be blown off, trees uprooted and power lines brought down.