The Met Office and major rail operators have advised Londoners to stay at home and avoid travel unless absolutely necessary, as the south coast braces itself for further gales later today and into Friday.
Storm Ciarán is the third major storm to batter the British Isles so far this season. It is the first this year to have significant impact on southern England and London, with river levels rising rapidly, walls collapsing and trees felled by the 50 to 60mph winds.
Parts of the Midlands, northern England and Scotland suffered significant flooding as a result of Storm Babet last month.
Angus, Dundee, Fife and Kincardineshire were among a number of counties that recorded their wettest October on record, as Storm Babet followed exceptional rainfall in a sodden period for many.
Now it is the south’s turn. Storm Ciarán started battering the Channel coast overnight, and has brought significant rainfall across south London today, with some localised flooding.
Dozens of people in Jersey were evacuated to hotels overnight after wind gusts of up to 102mph and giant-sized hailstones damaged homes. More than 300 schools are shut across southern England, while major incidents are declared in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Jersey.
As the storm moved northwards, some parts of the Midlands, flooded during Babet’s wet weather, have experienced hazardously rising river levels once again.
The Port of Dover was forced to close as a precautionary measure this morning.
At lunchtime today, the Met Office said: “We could still see further disruption and damage from widespread gales through the English Channel this afternoon, and stronger winds will develop across other southern counties of England and Wales (compared with this morning in these areas).”
They predicted that “it will be blustery for all tomorrow”.
Kate Marks, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Significant surface water flooding is possible but not expected in the south-east of England today and minor river flooding impacts are probable. Further significant flooding impacts are possible through to Friday in response to rain from Storm Ciarán.
“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 your car.”
The latest situation can be checked at https://www.gov.uk/check-if-youre-at-risk-of-flooding.
The whole of London is subject to a Met Office yellow weather warning through until tomorrow. A flood alert is also in place along the Thames between Putney Bridge and Teddington. Cars were flooded during the autumn high tide along the river at Chiswick on Monday.
Network Rail has urged passengers to check their journeys for any alerts ahead of travelling between now and Friday. The London to Brighton line, through East Croydon and Purley, is particularly bad affected.
Thameslink posted a statement with Gatwick Express and Southern Rail urging people to stay at home. “You should work from home on Thursday if you can, avoiding any non-essential journeys, particularly early on Thursday morning,” the statement said.
“If lines are closed due to the storm, it’s unlikely that we will be able to provide rail replacement transport. We expect road conditions to be very poor and equally affected by the storm.”
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