All train services and most schools in Wales were suspended on Friday as Storm Eunice approached, with millions across the south-east of England also urged to stay home.
Britain’s meteorological agency has put nearly the entire UK under a weather warning with a red warning declared for south-west England and southern Wales as well as across large swathes of the south-east including London.
The Met Office warned of “extremely strong” winds that could reach up to 90 miles per hour (144 kmp) and said flying debris that could be a danger to life as well as damage to buildings, homes and power lines are to be expected.
The vast majority of England was meanwhile placed under an amber warning with the north, Scotland and Northern Ireland under a yellow warning.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the army on standby on Thursday following an emergency COBRA meeting over Storm Eunice.
Mark Drakeford, First Minister for Wales, said on Twitter: “We’re expecting significant disruptions — all trains in Wales will be cancelled ad many schools are closed — so please plan ahead and only travel if absolutely necessary.”
Councils across the southwest of England have declared major incidents including in Avon, Sommerset and Gloucestershire and urged people not to travel.
Sommerset has closed all of its schools while the Devon council has encouraged its schools not to open. Both have warned of potential flooding in coastal areas. Gloucestershire on Thursday urged people living in flood areas to evacuate ahead of the storm’s arrival.
Ireland’s Met Eireann agency has also issued red weather warnings for most of its coastal areas.
Gerry Murphy, a meteorologist for the weather agency, explained the red warning was issued “as winds are expected to reach 80km/h with gusts in excess 130km/h.”
“Red warnings mean weather conditions will be extremely dangerous with a significant threat to life — we’re urging people in these areas not to make unnecessary journeys and follow advice from local authorities and emergency services,” he stressed.
Storm Eunice will batter the UK just two days after Storm Dudley already caused significant disruptions to travel and left tens of thousands of households temporarily without power.
Violent storms in Germany, Netherlands, and Poland this week have also led to the deaths of at least four people.
Two people died in Germany after trees fell on their cars, while two others were killed in Poland when strong winds brought down a construction crane.