Storm Isha has hit the UK with rare “danger to life” weather warnings covering the majority of the country ahead of 90mph gusts.
Multiple weather warnings, including two amber wind alerts, were put in place by the Met Office for Sunday evening to Monday morning with the forecaster warning of life-threatening gusts and travel disruption for the start of the working week.
It comes as rail, sea and air travellers were hit with disruption as closures, cancellations and delays affected a number of services, with Network Rail imposing a 50mph speed restriction across most routes.
The rail operator said it was also stopping all freight and passenger trains from 10pm on Sunday to Monday morning.
A “tornado watch” zone was issued for Northern Ireland, as well as parts of Scotland and northern England by the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (Torro) on Sunday afternoon, meaning that a “strong tornado” is possible in those areas.
Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna said: “There is a potential that we could see the odd isolated tornado largely tied in with the squally cold front mainly in western parts of the UK on Sunday evening.
“They can cause some significant damage but often on a very localised scale, they often don’t tend to last very long.”
In December, a tornado in Greater Manchester during Storm Gerritt caused 100 houses to be evacuated, with roofs ripped from buildings and trees falling onto cars.
Ahead of Storm Isha, Brits had been warned damage to homes and buildings is likely, with falling trees, power cuts, flying debris, large waves and even some flooding in places should be expected.
Thousands of homes were left without power in Ireland with people urged to heed wind warnings and told not to make unnecessary journeys.
The Met Office said that “everybody” will be affected by the bad weather, with alerts covering the entirety of the country.
Winds of 90mph were recorded in Capel Curig, Wales, while agencies across Cumbria have declared themselves on standby for a major incident, while elsewhere a person was hit by debris in Belfast.
Nine flood warnings have been issued across England with nearly four inches of rain predicted to fall over a few hours in some regions.
Two different amber warnings are in place across most of the UK from 6pm to Monday morning, saying 70mph winds should be expected inland, with gusts of 80mph on coastal regions.
A yellow wind warning also covers the UK, including parts of London and the southeast, while four rain alerts were in place around the country.
Travel disruption was likely to continue into Monday morning, with Scotland’s railway operator cancelling all of its services after 7pm and there will also be no Monday morning rush-hour services.
As well as trains, people have also been left dismayed by flight cancellations after air traffic control restrictions were enforced.
Heathrow, London City and Gatwick were among those worst hit by the weather, with British Airways grounding a further 28 departures and arrivals on top of 36 previously notified.
Dublin airport said the storm was posing “a significant challenge” to flights operations, and as of 7pm airlines had cancelled 114 flights – 58 incoming and 56 departing – with 36 flights diverted to other airports.
National Air Traffic Services (Nats) said: “Due to adverse weather conditions across the UK, temporary air traffic restrictions are in place. Restrictions of this sort are only every applied to maintain safety.
“Our teams are working closely with airports and airlines to minimise disruption. Passengers should check the status of their flight with their airline.”
British Airways said: “Like other airlines, we have had to make schedule adjustments due to the adverse weather conditions across the UK and Europe caused by Storm Isha.
“We’ve apologised to our customers for the disruption to their travel plans and our teams are working hard to get them on their way as quickly as possible.”
Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said: “We’re expecting widespread gales to affect the UK, amber warnings are in place for large parts of the country.
“There’s the potential for danger-to-life and damaging winds potentially leading to some power cuts in places, some large waves around coastal regions could bring some debris onto roads and trees could come down.”
He added: “We have a wind warning in place across the whole of the UK, it’s pretty unusual for the whole of the country to be under a blanket wind warning.”
Storm Isha is the ninth named storm to hit the UK since the season began in September.
The Met Office has explained that cold Arctic air pushing south into North America is making the jet stream more active and because it flows from west to east, it is bringing stormier weather to the UK.