Oct 28 2013
Thousands of homes are without power and commuters are facing severe travel disruption after the worst storm in years lashed the UK.
Winds of almost 100mph have left houses across large parts of the South and East without electricity.
More than 40 trees have been cleared off railway lines, and at least 100 trees have been discovered on lines across the South East so far, Network Rail said.
In central London, Whitehall was closed both ways between Parliament Square and Horse Guards Avenue after a crane collapsed on to the roof of the Cabinet Office.
London Mayor Boris Johnson will chair an emergency resilience meeting involving all emergency services and relevant agencies later this morning.
Tracy Elsey, communications manager for UK Power Networks, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "We have got close to 140,000 people without power at the moment.
"We have still got about 40,000 people off in the South East, which is our region which runs from Brighton up to Kent.
"In our East of England region, which goes from Essex up to the North Norfolk coast, we have seen a huge rise in reported power cuts. We have got 100,000 properties off power in the East."
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) said more than 38,000 customers were left without power in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, while Western Power reported more than 3,800 power cuts in the same areas, Downing Street said.
Trains across the country have been disrupted, with many operators not expecting to run services until later in the day.
Police said at least 125 trees were down across roads in Sussex by 6.30am, and Kent Police said at least 70 trees had been blown down across the county.
Transport for London (TfL) said there was disruption to six Underground lines due to debris from the storm on the tracks.
The Bakerloo, Central, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern and Piccadilly lines were all partially closed while workers removed fallen trees and other obstructions, a TfL spokesman said.
The Environment Agency has 137 flood alerts in place across England and Wales, warning people to be prepared, and 13 flood warnings, with 12 in the South West.
Winds of up to 80mph have been reported, while a gust of 99mph was recorded by the Met Office at the Isle of Wight at 5am.
Major roads around the country have been closed, including both Severn crossings and the A249 Sheppey Crossing in Kent.
Mr Johnson said: "Clearly this has been a difficult night for many Londoners, and continues to be an incredibly trying morning," he said.
"Transport for London, the boroughs and the emergency services are working flat out in an effort to keep London moving and minimise disruption as far as is possible.
"I want to thank all the agencies for their professional response in incredibly testing conditions, and I'd urge Londoners to check before travelling by going to tfl.gov.uk for the latest information."
London's Royal Parks have also been closed because of the weather conditions.
A spokeswoman said: "The closures are a necessary precaution to ensure the safety of all park users including vehicle users and cyclists.
"The parks will reopen as soon as The Royal Parks management and the police are satisfied it is safe to do so. We are aware of some damage to trees."
About 40 houses were evacuated after a fallen tree caused a gas leak in Reading, Berkshire.
Thames Valley Police said the leak was near Calcot Golf Club.
Police and firefighters from the Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service have enforced a 612-yard (560m) cordon for public safety.
Mike Cooper, a director at Richfords Fire and Flood Restoration Specialists, said one home in Camborne, Cornwall, had to be evacuated overnight when a tree fell on to the property.
But he said people had done their best to guard against being caught out by the weather.
He said: "It looks as though the incident in Camborne happened without causing any injury, so obviously everyone is thankful that is the case.
"We've had a handful of incidents reported to us overnight and, for a county which has coastal borders on three sides, some localised flooding has to be expected.
"But I think people have taken heed of the warnings and prepared as best they can, which is good.
"Whenever this is serious risk to life - as there was with this storm - then it is very hard to argue that its potential has been over-emphasised. Thankfully it looks like most people have been sensible, kept safe, and reduced the risk to themselves and their property."