Storm Ciarán, the latest spell of bad weather to hit the UK, is already causing widespread travel disruption – with cancellations and delays expected to last until Friday.
The Met Office stays Storm Ciarán will cross the southern part of the UK on Thursday. But ahead of the storm, the weather service warns “a squally cold front will move eastwards across southern and southeast England bringing bursts of heavy rain and coastal gusts of 60-70mph, mainly from Dorset eastwards”.
Chief meteorologist at the Met Office, Dan Suri, said: “Wind and rain warnings associated with Storm Ciarán are in force from Wednesday night onwards into Friday, with further updates possible on Wednesday.
“Storm Ciarán is expected to bring very strong winds along southern coastal areas of England in particular where gusts of 70 to 80mph are possible, gusts perhaps exceeding 85mph in the most exposed locations. Further inland, gusts could reach up to 50 or 60mph.
“As well as strong winds, this deep low pressure system will bring heavy rain to many parts of the UK. Much of southern England and south Wales, as well as parts of north Wales, northeast England, southeast Scotland and perhaps the east of Northern Ireland look to see the wettest conditions between Wednesday evening and Friday morning.
“Some parts of South Wales and southwest England may see 80mm [3 inches] of rain. This rain will fall on already saturated ground, bringing the risk of flooding.”
Amber warnings for winds are in force for southwestern England and Wales on Thursday morning, as well as for the far south and southeast of England during the day and early evening on Thursday.
National Rail is warning that “heavy rain accompanied by strong winds” will affect journeys across Wales and the south of England on Wednesday and Thursday, and across the northeast of England on Thursday and Friday.
Already nine train operators that are likely to be badly affected are allowing passengers booked on Thursday 2 November to travel on either Wednesday or Friday – even if they have an advance ticket. The operators are:
Great Western Railway
South Western Railway
Transport for Wales
Great Western Railway (GWR) is advising passengers not to travel in Cornwall from 8pm on Wednesday until at least 12 noon on Thursday. It has cancelled all trains on the main line west of St Austell towards Penzance, as well as branch lines, during that spell.
Network Rail will apply a speed restriction from late Wednesday and throughout Thursday of 50mph to all trains on coastal routes in southern England, and between the coast and Three Bridges.
Commuters are warned: “Work from home on Thursday if you can, avoiding any non-essential journeys particularly early on Thursday morning.”
Main line routes in Kent on Southeastern are likely to be disrupted on Thursday morning until at least 9am.
CrossCountry says: “The forecast severe weather means that fewer trains are able to run between Taunton and Plymouth. It is anticipated that from 6pm today there will be significant disruption.”
On the East Coast main line, connecting London King’s Cross with Yorkshire, northeast England and Scotland, LNER warns disruption to services due to Storm Ciarán will continue until at least Saturday 4 November – and is urging passengers not to attempt to travel before then.
The train operator says: “We strongly advise customers to avoid travelling on Thursday 2 November and Friday 3 November.“Some LNER trains will be running, but there is likely to be major disruption including severe delays, short-notice cancellations and overcrowding.
Passengers travelling exclusively on LNER can use their tickets on any LNER service on Monday or Tuesday 6/7 November.
In France, all regional express trains in the Hauts de France region – stretching from north of Paris to Calais and Dunkirk – have been cancelled on Thursday.
The train operator warns: “Exceptional phenomena are expected with forecasts of violent winds in the North of France. In order to guarantee the safety of travellers and staff, a total interruption of TER Hauts-de-France traffic is planned for Thursday 2 November all day, with possible consequences on Friday 3 November in the morning.”
Brittany Ferries has cancelled all UK-Spain sailings planned to go through the Bay of Biscay on Wednesday and Thursday, where waves could reach 14 metres (45 feet) off the Brittany coast.
French forecasters are warning that gusts could reach 170km/h (106mph).
Thursday’s 7pm departure from Portsmouth to Bilbao will got ahead. An insider said: “The worst of the storm will have passed by then, albeit it will be quite a bumpy ride. By the time it gets to Biscay it will still be quite rough, but not Alton Towers rollercoaster-rough.”
Across the Channel between England and France, after the afternoon service from Portsmouth to Caen arrives at around 7.15pm, all services are suspended until Thursday evening.
All sailings by DFDS Ferries between the UK and France have been cancelled from late on Wednesday evening to Friday morning.
The line normally links Dover with both Calais and Dunkirk. But the company says: “We regret to inform that sailings from the 11.59pm departure on 1 November until and including the 2am departure on 3 November have been suspended due to the extreme weather conditions.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and we appreciate your understanding in this matter. Rest assured that the safety of our passengers remains our utmost priority.
“For passengers affected by the cancellation, our customer service representatives are available to assist you with rebooking options or answer any questions you may have. We understand the disappointment this may cause, and we appreciate your patience.”
Earlier DFDS said its Newhaven-Dieppe link would be suspended for 24 hours from Wednesday evening.
Irish Ferries currently plans to operate all its Dover-Calais sailings, but Thursday’s Dublin to Cherbourg voyage is cancelled because of expected bad weather. The Wednesday evening departure from Rosslare to Pembroke is cancelled, and the Thursday afternoon sailing is delayed by up to two-and-a-half hours.
Brittany Ferries is telling travellers: “Weather-related delays and/or cancellations may occur on Wednesday 1 November and (particularly) Thursday 2 November. We will continue to monitor forecasts carefully in the coming 24 hours.”
At London Heathrow airport, the busiest in the UK, British Airways has grounded 30 domestic and European flights on Thursday. They include two round trips to each of Amsterdam, Belfast City and Paris CDG.
Passengers are being rebooked on other services, or can take a full refund.
In addition, all four BA services to and from Jersey have been grounded due to the closure of the island’s airport all day on Thursday.
Thousands of passengers hoping to connect from UK airports at Amsterdam Schiphol are learning that their flights on Thursday have been cancelled.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is telling passengers: “Due to the expected weather conditions at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the runway capacity has been reduced on Thursday 2 November. As a result, some of our flights have been cancelled. We apologise for any inconvenience.
All 17 UK airports served by KLM, from Bristol to Inverness, have had some departures and arrivals cancelled. Almost 50 flights to and from Amsterdam are affected. London City, London Heathrow and Manchester are worst hit.
Passengers are entitled to be re-routed free of charge, with KLM providing hotels and meals as necessary until they reach their destinations.
Loganair passengers booked to fly to or from airports in southern parts of Britain on Thursday can switch to other dates. The airline said: “We are offering customers travelling to or from Norwich, Bristol, Newquay, Southampton, Exeter, London Heathrow and Cardiff the opportunity to adjust travel plans without charge.
“We plan to fly all our scheduled services. We have standby aircraft and crews in place to help recover disrupted services as soon as weather permits.”
EasyJet is telling passengers: “Storm Ciarán is expected to affect parts of Northern Ireland, southern England and the Channel Islands from the evening of 1 November through to 2 November.
“This has the potential to cause some delays and disruption to flights.”
Jersey airport, the main hub for the Channel Islands, will close to all passenger flights on Thursday 2 November. Passengers are told: “Airport authorities have decided to close the airport to commercial operations all day on Thursday.
“The airport will remain open for emergency and medical flights, and will reopen on Friday after a visual inspection of the airport infrastructure.”
Guernsey airport is indicating that all departures from 4.40pm on Wednesday until at least 1.15pm on Thursday are cancelled.
A spokesperson for easyJet said: “Due to strong winds forecast from Storm Ciaran impacting parts of southern UK on Thursday, like other airlines we are expecting some disruption to our flying programme.
“We continue to advise all passengers due to fly with us on Thursday to check the status of their flights … and to allow extra time to travel to the airport due to the impact of the weather on local public transport services.”