Storm Ciarán: London commuters urged not to travel as Channel Islands hit with 100mph gusts

Thousands of homes were left without power across southern England on Thursday and hundreds of schools closed their doors as Storm Ciarán wreaked havoc.

Londoners were urged not to travel by rail companies due to strong winds, while gusts of more than 100mph in the south of England caused trees to fall, damage to roofs and power outages.

In the Channel Island of Jersey, some residents had to evacuate their homes, with one woman saying hailstones “bigger than a golf ball” had shattered her windows.

A major incident was declared in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight but it was later downgraded as the area managed to dodge “the full extent of the forecast weather”.

By Thursday afternoon, the Met Office’s amber warnings - the second most severe - had been dialled back, as forecasters said Storm Ciarán set a record for lowest atmospheric pressure in November.

People are rescued from their holiday chalets by fire and rescue at Freshwater Beach Holiday Park (Getty Images)
People are rescued from their holiday chalets by fire and rescue at Freshwater Beach Holiday Park (Getty Images)

However, more than 10,000 homes were still left without power in Dorset and Cornwall, while more than 300 schools could not open their doors.

Flooding is still expected in 77 areas, according to the Environment Agency, most of which are on the south coast of England. A further 188 alerts are in place for possible flooding across England.

The Channel Islands were among the hardest hit by the storm, with people warned to avoid outside activity in Jersey due to gusts which reached as high as 104mph.

States of Jersey Police said 35 people were moved to hotel accommodation overnight, with three taken to hospital after damage to their homes.

One Jersey homeowner, Suzie Phillips, told the PA news agency: "The hailstones were quite a bit heavier and bigger than a golf ball and we've had three windows damaged by them - in my daughter's bedroom, a landing and a bathroom.

"It was quite worrying, especially for the kids - they were quite anxious about it."

All flights from Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney airports on Thursday were cancelled, with BA and KLM among the airlines cancelling some flights from mainland British airports too over weather conditions.

In Sidmouth, Devon, dramatic scenes were pictures of a car being washed away into the sea, while high winds also caused a trampoline to blow onto the tracks at Hastings.

The Christmas light switch-on in Carnaby Street in central London was postponed until 8 November due to concerns about the weather.

However Westminster Council is pressing ahead with plans for the Oxford Street lights to be switched on on Thursday evening.

The Fire Brigade had also urged Londoners to take extra care.

“Avoid travelling in strong winds where possible, and never shelter under trees or by fencing. Powerful winds could cause them to collapse and injure you," said Assistant Commissioner Charlie Pughsley.

Severe weather conditions also closed the Port of Dover for a short period on Thursday morning as it was not safe.

Commuters were urged to work from home by Southern Rail ahead of the storm hitting, with Southeastern “strongly advising” passengers not to travel on routes in and out of London before 9am on Thursday as they assess any fallen trees and debris on the line.

Other operators were warning of delays and cancellations and people are being told to check before they travel.

As conditions improved Network Rail South East on Thursday afternoon posted on X: "Some good news after a very difficult day for our passengers & colleagues. Our expert forecasters say we're over the worst of #stormciaran so we're lifting the speed restrictions on our Kent and Sussex routes to allow trains to run at full speed again..."

But it warned trains were still running with delays.In Cornwall, where homes remained without power, the local council said the storm had led to a “significant event" in the region that had left its highways teams dealing with about 180 reports of fallen trees, debris and blocked drains.

A spokesperson said: “The two biggest challenges have been outages and debris causing road blockage - and at one point there were over 10,000 properties that were out of power and now, as it approached lunchtime, we are down to about 6,500.

"We are working with National Grid to help some vulnerable residents who might be impacted as it is forecast that some of them will not have their power restored until the morning."

The Met Office said Langdon Bay in Kent recorded 71mph winds, and the village of Cardinham in Cornwall saw 68mph gusts.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Kent, two buses were damaged by debris in strong winds in Capel-le-Ferne.

A Stagecoach spokesman said: "There are no reports of any injuries to passengers travelling on the buses."

The weather is not showing much sign of a rapid improvement once Storm Ciaran completely passes.

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Steven Keates said: “Once Storm Ciaran has passed, the weather over the weekend continues to look unsettled for many with more showers and rain at times.”

It comes as figures show the UK saw over a third more rain than average in October, at 171.5mm, in what was provisionally the joint-sixth wettest October on record.