Storm Henk batters UK leading to power outages, travel disruption and flooding

Storm Henk has lashed large parts of England and Wales with heavy rain and strong winds, causing power outages, transport disruption and flooding.

The biggest gust of 81mph was recorded at Exeter Airport in Devon.

Several rail firms warned people not to travel as blocked trees or power failures affected the network.

In Orpington, south-east London, a woman was taken to hospital after being struck by a falling tree. Her injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Moving from west to east, the storm brought significant disruption to large sections of Wales and England. Rough seas lashed coastal areas, especially in southern England, and road users faced downed trees and treacherous conditions.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA), which collates data from all energy providers, estimated that 38,000 customers were without power as of 19:00 GMT on Tuesday due to damage from the storm.

ENA spokesperson Ross Easton added that power had been restored to around 102,600 customers on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, flooding has hit the road and rail networks. As of 22:00, there were more than 290 flood warnings and 360 flood alerts in place, and the Environment Agency is warning that some riverside locations could see flooding until Thursday.

Firefighters said they used an inflatable sled to rescue people from a car stuck in floodwater in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, in the early hours of Tuesday.

Motorists have also been stopped from using the bridge at the Dartford Crossing heading south because of the strong winds.

In Greenwich, southeast London, the storm also brought down a scaffolding panel from a building, blocking a road.

Thousands of passengers have seen delays and cancellations on the rail network due to flooding and power failures.

Train services between London Paddington and south Wales are being diverted because of flooding between Swindon and Bristol Parkway, while the railway between Coventry and Birmingham International has been hit by flooding.

National Rail also said an electricity failure between London Paddington and Maidenhead meant some routes were blocked earlier on Tuesday evening. Lines have now reopened but disruption is expected to continue until the end of service with trains likely to be delayed or cancelled.

Thameslink has urged passengers not to travel unless absolutely necessary due to “multiple weather-related incidents across the entire network”, while South Western Railway is urging people not to travel on its services because of “extreme disruption”.

Train operator Avanti West Coast said in a post on X that all lines had now opened after being closed earlier because of damage to overhead wires between Watford Junction and London Euston.

Southern Rail said earlier on Tuesday it was enforcing speed restrictions of 40mph (64km/h) to multiple routes south of London, and warned there was disruption across the whole network “due to various multiple weather issues.”

And Great Western Railway was forced to close several lines.

Amber and yellow and warnings for rain and wind issued by the Met Office have now expired.

BBC Weather’s Matt Taylor said Storm Henk would move into northern mainland Europe by Wednesday but some showers and blustery conditions could linger.

Henk is now the eighth named storm in only three months but this spell of wet and windy weather looks as if it could come to an end later this week as more settled – but chillier – weather moves in.

The storm was named much later than usual – only hours before the impact was due to be felt. This was down to its small size and because it was still developing early on Tuesday morning.

Early forecasts were for gusts of around 70mph (112km/h), but some computer models were suggesting a stronger swathe of winds, while others were not – leading to uncertainty.

After higher resolution models confirmed the potential for stronger gusts, an amber warning was issued, and the Met Office, along with the Irish and Dutch weather services, gave the small storm system a name – Henk.

Meanwhile, 2023 was provisionally the second warmest year in the UK since records began, the Met Office said. The warmest year on record was 2022. Global temperatures are rising mainly because of human activity, leading to more intense heatwaves and rising sea-levels.


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