More than 80,000 homes are without power as killer Storm Arwen batters UK

More than 80,000 homes in the UK have been left without electricity after the country was battered by Storm Arwen last night.

Ferocious gales of nearly 100mph were recorded in Northumberland yesterday and one man in Northern Ireland was killed when his car was struck by a falling tree.

While the Met Office’s rare red weather warning expired early today, the forecaster said that amber and yellow warnings for wind remained in place, with the expectation of gusts of 70mph in many areas today and flooding along the North East coastline.

Police urged people to travel only if absolutely necessary today after roads were closed by fallen debris in the worst-hit parts of Scotland. 

Coastguards even begged Storm Arwen sightseers this morning to stay away from the sea today and tomorrow, warning: ‘No selfie is worth killing yourself for’.

LNER train services north of Newcastle were ground to a halt by high winds, heavy rain and snowfall, while ScotRail services were disrupted between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street, Dunblane and Stirling after a barn was blown onto the line close to Polmont, near Falkirk.  

The Met Office warned the north-east of England, north-west of England, Yorkshire, the West Midlands and the East Midlands will experience cold weather until Monday. Amber weather warnings remain in place until around 9am on Saturday for the north-east coasts of England and Scotland, and the south-west coasts of England and Wales, while the yellow warning covers most of the UK until 6pm.

Friday night’s rugby union Premiership game between Newcastle Falcons and Worcester Warriors was postponed until tonight due to safety concerns.

And in North Wales, ITV was forced to pre-record Friday night’s live episode of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! amid concerns that poor weather would interfere with the broadcast around Gwrych Castle. 

A lorry blown over in high winds blocks the A179 near Hartlepool, County Durham

A fallen tree blocks a road in the centre of Norton village in Teeside after gusts of almost 100mph

Storm Arwen has claimed her first victim after a driver died when a falling tree landed on his car while he was driving with his wife and two children in Antrim, Northern Ireland, on Friday evening

The Met Office warned the north-east of England, north-west of England, Yorkshire, the West Midlands and the East Midlands will experience cold weather until Monday

While the Met Office’s rare red weather warning expired early today, the forecaster warned that amber and yellow warnings for wind remained in place

The Met Office is expecting gusts of 70mph in many areas today and flooding along the North East coastline

A fallen tree blocks a road in the centre of Norton village in Teeside after gusts of almost 100mph

heavy snow shower passes over Saltburn By The Sea as Storm Arwen sweeps across the country

Despite the bitter weather, revellers were seen heading into Leeds city centre for a night of partying

How rare is a Met Office red weather warning – and what does it mean? 

The Met Office today issued a red weather warning for wind in Scotland. 

The last time a red wind warning was activated in the UK was for South West England in March 2018.

Today’s alert is the 11th red warning issued by the Met Office since its three-tier system came into use in 2011. 

It also includes yellow warnings for ‘be aware’ and amber for ‘be prepared’. 

The Met Office definition of a red alert is to ‘take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the weather. Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely’. 

The 11 red warnings issued by the Met Office since the system began seven years ago are as follows:

  • December 8, 2011: Wind in central and southern Scotland
  • January 3, 2012: Wind in central Scotland
  • July 7, 2012: Rain in Devon and Cornwall
  • January 18, 2013: Snow in South Wales
  • February 12, 2014: Wind in Wales and northern England
  • December 5, 2015: Rain in Cumbria and the Borders (Storm Desmond)
  • December 26, 2016: Rain in Lancashire and Yorkshire
  • January 29, 2016: Wind in Orkney and Shetland
  • February 28, 2018: Snow in central Scotland
  • March 1, 2018: Wind and snow in South West England
  • November 26, 2021: Wind in Northeast England and Scotland (Storm Arwen) 

Wind speeds reached 87mph in Orlock Head, County Down. Inverbervie on the north-east coast of Scotland saw gusts of 78mph, while Aberporth in Wales saw speeds of 77mph.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said it had been dealing with a ‘large’ number of incidents late on Friday ’caused by the current weather conditions including many fallen trees and roofs being blown off structures’.  

The Met Office described the conditions as ‘horrendous’ and people also reported power cuts. Northern Powergrid said severe gales had caused power cuts for more than 55,000 customers, mainly in the Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear areas. 

Footage showed howling winds whipping up the North Sea in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, and snowfall elsewhere, including in Redcar, Yorkshire, and Whitley Bay, Northumberland.

North West Motorway Police said around 120 lorries were ‘stuck in the snow’ on the M62 at junctions 21 and 22 and urged motorists to avoid the area. Tweeting pictures of the motorway blanketed in white, they said snow ploughs had been deployed.

A Met Office statement said: ‘People should stay away from the coast as waves and debris are a danger to life.’

They are warning people not to get too close to cliffs and harbour walls – even piers – as the howling 70mph gales whip up huge waves.

HM Coastguard Cornwall & Isles of Scilly warned that just 15cm of water is enough to knock you off your feet and sweep you into the boiling cauldron – with little chance of being rescued. 

‘There are lots of warnings around our coast from the Met office for the next couple of days,’ they said.

‘Please take great care if you are going to look at the waves. No photo is worth your life, it only takes 15cm of water to sweep you off your feet. Keep back from cliff edges, piers, harbour walls and other exposed areas if it’s choppy.’ 

The Met Office has issued a rare highest ‘danger to life’ warning for wind from 3pm yesterday to 2am today, with gales forecast to be as high as 90mph and waves as high as 32ft.

Superintendent Simon Bradshaw, from Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit, said motorists in the area ‘should not travel under any circumstances’ and added those in amber and yellow warning zones should ‘not journey out unless for essential purposes and if you are doing so, to be mindful of the challenging conditions you will face’.

The red warning stretched along the east coast from Middlesbrough to beyond Aberdeen and was the first maximum alert to be issued since Storm Dennis in February 2020.

Grahame Madge, a Met Office spokesman, said the forecaster didn’t ‘issue red warnings lightly’ and warned people to stay away from the affected area.

Heavy snow and high winds affecting parts of Scotland yesterday as the Met Office issues a rare red weather warning

A heavy snow shower passes over Saltburn-By-The-Sea as Storm Arwen sweeps across parts of the country on Friday evening

The first snowfall of winter 2021 this Northumberland yesterday as Storm Arwen hits the UK

The red warning covered areas including Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Edinburgh and Aberdeen

‘People need to recognise, really, that we don’t issue red warnings lightly so, therefore, when we do, we feel that there is a much higher threat of risk,’ he said.

‘We urge people, obviously, to take action as a result of that and that action in this case is probably don’t go to the coast. 

The UK Health Security Agency has issued a cold weather alert and urged people to check on elderly relatives or neighbours. 

Will Land, head of civil contingencies at the Met Office, said: ‘The UK will see temperatures drop to below average in the coming days, as cold air is drawn in from the north.

‘This is coupled with the strong winds associated with Storm Arwen, which means it will feel especially cold in the wind. Areas in the north will see temperatures below freezing overnight, with daytime maximum temperatures only getting into the low single figures. It’s important to note that strong wind speeds, in excess of 65mph in exposed locations, will exacerbate the cold temperatures we’ll be seeing over the weekend.’ 

Ben Sheridan, AA patrol of the year, says: ‘Storm Arwen will bring a nasty mix of snow, particularly in the North East and Scotland, and wind which will make visibility poor, especially at night.

Pictured: Motorists driver through a heavy snow shower in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire

Pictured: Waves crash against the pier wall in Tynemouth, North Tyneside, on Friday

‘If you must travel in the worst affected areas, adjust your driving to account for the conditions and leave plenty of space behind other vehicles.

‘Allow extra time, as there may be delays and make sure you pack winter essentials in the car such as warm, waterproof layers, a shovel, a torch, fully charged mobile phone and a flask of hot drink.

‘Watch out for debris on the road and pay attention when passing high-sided vehicles when you encounter strong winds.’

The RNLI tweeted: ‘With #StormArwen named as our first winter storm, we can expect some strong winds and rough weather overnight and into the weekend. We urge people to stay safe near the coast as the severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.’

The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning – meaning lives are in danger – for northeast Scotland and England as well as yellow weather warnings for Friday and Saturday. Forecasters warn snow is possible, ‘almost anywhere away from the far-south’. Pictured, waves at Roker Lighthouse in Sunderland today

Temperatures could plummet to as low as -4C in the Scottish Highlands overnight on Saturday into Sunday

The Met Office has warned the extreme wind could close bridges and roads as well as see tiles blown off buildings over the weekend. Pictured, a map of the wind direction

The charity said 150 people ‘accidentally lose their lives around UK and Irish waters each year, and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water’. 

‘If you see someone in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’  

The RAC has advised drivers to prepare for strong gusts by slowing down and being ‘very careful’ when passing high-sided vehicles or cyclists. 

Spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘In extreme windy conditions, bridges may also be closed and trees may fall so it’s important to allow extra time for journeys.

‘With forecasters predicting strong winds together with colder conditions, drivers should take this opportunity to prepare their vehicles for winter by checking oil and coolant levels, ensuring they have enough good quality screen wash that protects down to well below minus 10C, as well as having properly inflated tyres with good tread.’   

Experts have expressed fears that migrants attempting to cross the Channel face ‘terrifying’ conditions that no commercial fishermen would risk. 

Meanwhile, Labrokes is predicting next month will be the coldest December on record with 2/1 bets. 

Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: ‘A White Christmas will come at a freezing cold cost if the latest odds are anything to go by, with next month looking increasingly likely to break records on the weather front for all the wrong reasons.’ 

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