UK surveys damage after Storm Aileen cuts power to 50,000


UK communities are surveying the damage of Storm Aileen – the first to be named so far this year – as a night of bad weather subsides.

Thousands of homes lost power and motorists were advised to avoid roads late on Tuesday as the strongest storm of the season swept the country.

At its highest, at The Needles in Isle of Wight, Aileen brought winds of 83mph. In Mumbles, South Wales, gusts hit 74mph and at Heathrow they reached 63mph.

Western Power Distribution, serving the Midlands, South Wales and the South West, had to restore power to 30,000 customers during the night. Another 20,000 people had their power interrupted for short periods.

Motorcyclists and lorry drivers were warned of the dangers of being blown over, while in some areas the storm brought problems including felled trees, flooding and minor damage to homes.

The Severn Bridge was closed due to high winds but has since been reopened. Some train lines may still face disruption due to branches and leaves on the track.

“It’s fairly unusual for a storm of a high enough severity to be named this time of year, especially further south,” said Sky News weather producer Chris England.

“One problem is that the leaves are in full leaf so the wind in the trees is different in autumn and winter,” he said. “A tree full of leaves is like a yacht with its sails up.”

Storms are named by the Met Office – Met Eireann in Ireland – but only those deemed serious enough to warrant an amber “be prepared” or red “take action” warning, based on the potential impact of rain, wind or snow, are named.

Five storms during the 2016-17 season merited a title, ranging from Angus in late November to Ewan at the end of February.

During the 2015-16 season, the first to introduced naming in the UK,were given the honour, beginning with Abigail in mid-November and culminating with Katie at the end of March.