England and Wales set for ‘worst storm in years’
Met Éireann says Ireland will not be hit by major storm, but warns of strong winds
A kite surfer enjoys the stormy seas at Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall today. Millions of people in parts of the UK have been told to brace themselves for what is predicted to be one of the worst storms for years, with heavy rain and hurricane-force winds expected tonight and tomorrow morning as the storm hits the south west then moves north and eastwards. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Ireland will escape the brunt of the storm which is predicted to track to the south of the coastline before hitting Britain.
“The storm isn’t going to hit us,” Met Éireann forecaster Deirdre Lowe said. “Winds will in fact become more moderate this evening before picking up again tomorrow, but tomorrow will be less windy than today.”
There is a likelihood of locally squally thundery showers, particularly in Connaught tomorrow, with quite strong winds at times, but where they occurred they were likely to pass quickly she said.
Winds of more than 120km/h could leave a trail of destruction across the Irish Sea, however, bringing down trees and causing widespread structural damage, leading to power cuts and transport chaos tomorrow morning.
Surface water floods could strike much of England as the Met Office predicts 2-4cm of rain could fall within six to nine hours overnight.
David Cameron said he has spoken to the organisations responsible for public safety during the storm.
Insurance companies have advised households to take steps to protect themselves and their property.
Direct Line said people should establish evacuation plans, place valuable items upstairs to limit flood damage and ensure gutters are clear so water can drain away.
The storm has been named St Jude after the patron saint of lost causes, whose feast day is tomorrow.
It will travel over the Atlantic and is expected to hit the South West late tonight, before moving north-eastwards across England and southern Wales.
Heavy rain will accompany it, with strong winds in the early hours of tomorrow, but the storm is expected to have moved out over the North Sea by lunchtime, leaving strong breezes in its wake.
The Met Office described the storm as not one “you would see every year”, and said the expected wind strengths would be similar to storms in March 2008, January 2007 and October 2000.
Gusts of 115 mph were recorded during the Great Storm of 1987, when 18 people died and thousands of homes were without power for several days.
The Met Office has issued an amber warning, meaning ”be prepared”, for the southern half of England and the southern half of Wales.
It gave a lesser yellow warning, meaning ”be aware”, for the rest of Wales and England up to the border with Scotland.
Frank Saunders, chief forecaster at the Met Office, said: “We are confident that a severe storm will affect Britain on Sunday night and Monday. We are now looking at refining the details about which areas will see the strongest winds and the heaviest rain.