Storm Henk pummels UK with London flights delayed and travel disrupted

Flights from Heathrow and Gatwick to Abu Dhabi and Dubai faced delays

Planes sway as they land in London during Storm Henk

Planes sway as they land in London during Storm Henk
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Winds of more than 150kph from Storm Henk led to train services being cancelled across Britain and flights from London to the UAE delayed.

Flights from London Heathrow and London Gatwick to Abu Dhabi and Dubai suffered delays due to Tuesday's exceptionally high winds and heavy rain from Storm Henk.

Transport networks across Britain slowly returned to normal on Wednesday following the disruption caused by the storm, which killed at least one person.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick told The National: “We are in a good position this morning and the airport is operating well.”

On the railways, several routes across the south-west and north-west of England along with the Midlands, East Anglia and South Wales were affected, with the disruption continuing into Wednesday.

One motorist in his fifties was killed on Tuesday when his car was hit by a falling tree in Gloucestershire, police said.

A falling tree injured a woman in Orpington, south-east London, and others damaged properties and blocked roads across the country.

South Western Railway warned passengers that there were “multiple incidents affecting services across the network” due to severe winds downing trees.

SWR chief operating officer Stuart Meek and Network Rail interim route director for Wessex Matt Pocock said on Wednesday: “We jointly took the decision to suspend running services for several hours to ensure the safety of all our customers and colleagues.

“This had a knock-on effect with delays and cancellations through the rest of the day. We expect disruption linked to this storm to continue through today because of trains and crews being displaced.”

On Wednesday, Greater Anglia said it was still experiencing “severe disruption”, with “do not travel” warnings for routes in Norwich, Colchester, Peterborough and Cambridge.

More than 300 flood warnings were in place across England and Wales on Wednesday morning, while 10,000 homes remained without power.

Amber weather warning for central England

A Met Office amber warning for wind covered a central part of England, with the public warned of possible travel disruption, damage to roofs and power cuts across southern England, the Midlands, East Anglia and Wales.

The strongest gales were recorded at the Needles Old Battery in the Isle of Wight, where wind speeds reached 151kph.

Gusts of 130kph were reached at Exeter Airport in Devon and winds hit 114kph at the Isle of Portland in Dorset as well as at Mumbles Head in Glamorgan.

A broad yellow warning for rain was in place on Tuesday evening – leaving regions including the East Midlands, East of England, London and south-east England, north-west England, south-west England and Wales braced for heavy downpours.

It said: “Ten to 20mm of rain [will be] falling fairly widely, with a few places seeing 30-40mm.”

Thousands of people left without power

The Energy Networks Association – which collates data from all energy providers – estimated that 38,000 customers were without power as a direct result of storm damage at 7pm on Tuesday.

“Electricity network technicians have reconnected around 102,600 customers since Storm Henk damaged power lines today,” ENA spokesman Ross Easton said.

“Intensive winds, higher than originally forecast, of more than 80mph [128kph] in places have meant that repairs have been needed to electricity infrastructure and right now engineering teams are working to reconnect supplies as quickly and safely as possible.”

Environment Agency issues flood warnings

There were 246 flood warnings – meaning that flooding is expected – and 353 alerts for possible flooding by 7.15pm, according to the Environment Agency.

Stefan Laeger, the agency’s flood duty manager, said the heavy rainfall meant “significant local flooding” on the River Nene, in the east of England, was “probable” on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Recent and ongoing heavy rain is falling on already very wet ground and could see some riverside locations across England flood until Thursday, while surface water flooding is also possible at times during the next five days in parts of the country,” he said.

“Environment Agency teams will be out on the ground, working to minimise the impacts of flooding where possible. We advise people to stay away from swollen rivers and urge people not to drive through flood water as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move cars.”

Updated: January 03, 2024, 12:00 PM