The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for most of the UK ahead of the arrival of Storm Barra on Tuesday, as thousands of homes remain without power more than a week after Storm Arwen.
Yellow wind weather warnings are in place across England, Wales and Northern Ireland for Tuesday, with yellow snow warnings in place in southern and western Scotland.
Storm Barra, a deep area of low pressure moving in from the Atlantic and the second named storm of the season, is expected to bring the strongest winds and impacts to the Republic of Ireland.
Two to five centimetres of snow is expected to accumulate widely across England and Scotland, but meteorologists said this could reach 10cm, particularly in parts of the Southern Uplands and Highlands.
Gusts of 45-50 mph are expected across the UK, with 60-70 mph winds in exposed coastal locations, which could affect the ability of engineers to restore power to homes.
The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said that 3,190 homes were waiting to be reconnected as of 2pm on Sunday, down from 4,025 homes on Sunday morning.
Most of the impacted homes are in the north-east of England, the ENA added.
Watch: Race to restore power to thousands of homes ahead of Storm Barra as anger grows over government response
During a visit to a Northern Powergrid call centre in Penshaw near Sunderland, the energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, warned power firms the government will review their operations after continuing outages caused by Storm Arwen nine days ago.
“I think we can make the system a lot more resilient. We will have a review, we will see if the distributor companies have enough infrastructure, we may even have enforcement action if necessary,” he said.
After visiting crews working in Weardale, County Durham, the energy secretary said engineers have been working in freezing temperatures to restore power supplies: “There are very challenging conditions.
“There’s lots of ice, sleet, snow and it’s very difficult for the engineers to get vital infrastructure up and ready.
“Some of the communications have not been brilliant. It’s very difficult in a centre or hub like this to know what’s going on on the ground, but I think that’s improving.
“I think the engineers are doing a fantastic job, we have got the army out as well and they are all pulling together very effectively, but there are still a few hundred people who are still off power and I think that’s really unacceptable.”
Kwarteng said he disagreed that the response to the Storm Arwen power cuts would have been swifter if they had happened in the south-east of England: “The physical infrastructure, layout and landscape is very different. One of the particular reasons why we haven’t got people back on the power supply is the weather conditions and they are very challenging [with] people in sparsely populated, very rural areas, and that represents a challenge,” he said.
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