Storm Franklin: Flights cancelled as millions of travellers warned of major disruption

British train operator Northern issues 'do not travel' alert to passengers because of ferocious weather

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Millions of travellers across the UK face disruption to their plans as Storm Franklin batters parts of the country with ferocious winds and lashing rain.

Flights have been cancelled and delayed and one train operator has issued a “do not travel” warning over the risk of flooding to tracks, while hundreds of homes have been evacuated.

The Met Office issued an amber warning for winds, which could cause a “risk to life”, in Northern Ireland until 7am on Monday, while a milder yellow wind warning covers England, Wales and south-western Scotland from noon until 1pm.

In Northern Ireland, authorities warned people living in coastal areas of the dangers of large waves, falling trees and damage to power lines. Disruption to road, rail, air and ferry travel was expected.

Gusts of up to 110 kph were expected inland while 130 kph gales forecast on the coast.

Storm Franklin rolled in overnight after Storm Eunice caused major travel disruption on Friday, only days after Storm Dudley hit.

Becky Mitchell of the Met Office said it was the first time three named storms have been recorded within seven days since the system began in 2015.

She said there would “definitely be some impact” from Storm Franklin on Monday but it was not expected to be as severe as Eunice because the strongest winds would be confined to the coast.

A representative for British Airways told The National that some flights scheduled for Monday had to be cancelled because of the weather.

They said the “vast majority” of flights in and out of the UK were expected to go ahead but they “have had to cancel and delay a number of flights” due to the storms.

Customers whose flights have been cancelled will be offered a refund, BA said.

“We would like to thank our customers for their patience while our teams continue to work hard in challenging conditions, and apologise for the inconvenience caused,” the representative said.

A representative for Heathrow Airport in London said passengers are encouraged to check with their airlines before travelling to the airport. Storm Eunice grounded about 400 flights in the UK on Friday, including all flights at London City Airport.

On Monday morning, easyJet said no flights had been cancelled but staff would continue to monitor conditions throughout the day.

A Virgin Atlantic flight from Islamabad declared an emergency while flying over Wolverhampton in the UK on Monday morning and was forced to abort a scheduled landing at Manchester Airport because of the conditions. A representative for the airline told The National the plane was diverted to Heathrow Airport in London, where it landed safely.

More than 400 households in south Manchester were ordered to seek shelter, with two severe flood warnings in place, the Environment Agency said.

Train operator Northern has issued a “do not travel” alert to passengers.

There was severe disruption on many of its routes, including between Sheffield and Manchester, Scarborough and Hull, York and Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds, Chester and Manchester, and Carlisle and Newcastle.

Northern posted a photograph on social media showing the rail line through Rotherham station in South Yorkshire submerged in water.

Just before 9am, Northern announced it had cancelled all service in the North West region of England. “Do not attempt to travel, do not head to stations as there are no alternatives,” the company warned customers.

The suspension was lifted at 11am, and services gradually began to operate again. However, Northern said “knock on disruption is expected for the rest of the day”.

National Rail has also told customers to expect setbacks to their travel plans and warned anyone making essential journeys once services resume to expect “major disruption” on routes “across most of Great Britain” – including cancellations, delays and slower speeds.

Two “severe” flood warnings have been issued for communities along the River Mersey in Greater Manchester, where rainfall could pose a “danger to life”.

On Sunday, parts of the UK were hit by heavy rains and powerful winds. Enormous waves crashed into coastal areas, homes were destroyed by strong gales and emergency services put up flood defences along swelling riverbanks.

The River Don burst its banks in the Sprotbrough area of Doncaster in South Yorkshire on Sunday night, and police warned people to stay away from fast-flowing water.

“We ask people to remain away from the area of Sprotbrough Falls and Sprotbrough Lock in Doncaster, after the River Don burst its banks,” South Yorkshire Police said.

“Many of the footpaths in this area are presently underwater. The water is fast-flowing and poses a risk to people attempting to wade through it.”

Katharine Smith, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, urged people to “stay away from swollen rivers” while teams install temporary barriers and pumps on the river.

A car stranded in flood waters in Belper, Derbyshire, on Monday after Storm Franklin brought downpours and strong winds. PA

“We advise people … not to drive through floodwater as just 30 centimetres of flowing water is enough to move your car,” she said. “Residents close to the River Mersey are being warned to take immediate action and prepare for property flooding.”

In Derby, firefighters from three locations were called to Wilson Street on Sunday afternoon after a roof blew off a terraced house, causing damage to five other properties.

Colossal waves have been captured engulfing Newhaven lighthouse in East Sussex and Porthcawl lighthouse in Bridgend, Wales.

Updated: February 21, 2022, 1:53 PM