Commuter chaos in UK as storm strikes

Storm Clouds Mattnolt Scx Hu

Hurricane-force winds have disrupted power and transport networks across southern Britain Monday as one of the strongest storms in decades hits the country during rush-hour.

Various media reports suggest that up to 40,000 households are without power in the south of the UK and major rail networks are running a restricted service or are closed until 9 a.m. London time.

The storm has been accompanied by severe rain causing flood warnings and bridge closures. Felled trees as a result of the severe winds have caused damage and road closures and sea routes have been affected. Ferry company P&O Ferries has cancelled one channel crossing and the Port of Dover is shut until further notice.

The country's Meteorological Office has issued warnings for much of the south of England and recorded winds of 99 miles per hour (mph) off the south coast's Isle of Wight on Monday morning.


Dubbed "St. Jude" by local media after the patron saint of lost causes who is traditionally celebrated on Oct. 28, the storm has also caused chaos at the region's major airports, Gatwick and Heathrow.

Airlines including British Airways have been instructed to reduce their flight schedules by 20 percent until 11:00a.m and international airport Heathrow said 130 flights had been cancelled on Monday.


The London Stock Exchange said it expects a normal trading session despite the forecast, however, one senior market analyst, Michael Hewson, warned that insurance companies could be impacted by the storm.

"I can't imagine there will be too many problems, assuming that there isn't too much damage to infrastructure caused by the high winds and fallen trees. I would hasten to suggest that insurance companies may be more concerned about the storm than energy companies if a lot of claims start to come in," Hewson added.

The storm-strength winds swept into the capital at the height of the rush hour with the damage count mounting. U.K. Secretary of State for Wales David Jones tweeted a picture showing a collapsed crane on top of the Cabinet Offices in London's Whitehall.


Police in the south east county of Kent have tweeted that the disruption to road routes could continue as winds could increase.

Kent police

The country's meteorological agency did forecast, however, that after an "exceptionally windy to start the day with damaging gusts in places", winds could in fact ease through this morning.

It said that advances in forecasting technology had allowed it to predict Monday's storm well in advance.

(Read more: Warm weather cools sales )

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