Storm Eunice: Highest ever winds of 122mph recorded in England

Waves crash against the sea wall at Saltcoats in North Ayrshire before Storm Dudley hits the north of England/southern Scotland from Wednesday night into Thursday morning, closely followed by Storm Eunice, which will bring strong winds and the possibility of snow on Friday. Picture date: Wednesday February 16, 2022.
Waves crash against the sea wall at Saltcoats in North Ayrshire (PA)

Record-breaking wind gusts of 122mph have been recorded in England as Storm Eunice batters Britain.

The jaw-dropping wind speed was provisionally recorded at the Needles on the Isle of Wight, the Met Office said.

Forecasters issued two rare red weather alerts over the winds amid dire warnings of a "significant risk to life".

Millions of people have been urged to stay at home for the day due to safety fears over the impact of Eunice, one of the worst storms to hit the UK in a generation.

Tens of thousands of homes have been left without power, while flights, trains and ferry services have been suspended, and roads, schools and businesses have shut as potentially record-breaking gusts of more than 120mph have been recorded in the most exposed areas.

Read more: Heading to coast for Storm Eunice pictures 'the most stupid thing you can do' warns expert

People walk in high winds along the seafront in Newquay on the Cornish coast as Storm Eunice makes landfall. Picture date: Friday February 18, 2022.
People ignored warnings to stay away from coastlines amid the storms (PA)

Among the chaos includes:

  • Network Rail said a fallen tree around 50 feet (15 metres) long at Ewell West, Surrey is blocking the line between London Waterloo and Dorking, Surrey.

  • P&O Ferries has suspended all sailings between Dover and Calais.

  • National Highways said the Britannia Bridge, which connects the island of Anglesey with mainland Wales, is closed.

  • Both the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge and M48 Severn Bridge are closed to all traffic.

  • All trains in Wales have been cancelled

  • Roof of a lifeboat station in Sennon Cove, near Penzance, was blown off and left resting on power cables.

Elsewhere, passengers have been trapped on a train in Kent as Eunice wreaks havoc on traffic and travel amid warnings to stay at home over fears of safety.

South Eastern railway tweeted: "We're working on a plan to safely rescue passengers currently stranded on a train between Tonbridge and Sevenoaks. Apologies for the continued delay, we will get you on the move ASAP."

In London, where a red weather warning was put in place earlier today, city-goers are being urged to avoid any non-essential travel. Gusts were so powerful the Millennium Dome was spotted splitting open gusts rammed the iconic city skyline.

Damage to the roof of the O2 Arena, in south east London, caused by Storm Eunice. Picture date: Friday February 18, 2022.
Damage to the roof of the O2 Arena. (PA)

Mala Sharma said “more and more parts are getting ripped off”, adding, “it’s going to be a safety issue for people around”.

She told Yahoo News UK that it happened “right in front of my eyes” and that the damage “started off with a patch” but then a “chunk” of the dome roof ripped off.

UK's most powerful winds - how it compares

98mph: The strongest gust recorded during Storm Arwen on the night of November 26-27 2021, at Brizlee Wood, Northumberland. Before Storm Eunice, Arwen was the most recent example of a red weather warning being issued in the UK.

105mph: The strongest gust during Storm Gertrude on January 29 2016, at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. This storm saw a red weather warning issued for the whole of the Shetlands.

115mph: The peak wind speed reached during the “Great Storm” of the night of October 15-16 1987, at Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex. Gusts also reached 99mph at Gatwick Airport and 94mph in central London.

118mph: The strongest gust recorded at a low-level location in England, at Gwennap Head in Cornwall on December 15 1979.

122mph: The strongest gust during Storm Eunice on February 18 2022, at the Needles on the Isle of Wight – provisionally the highest gust ever recorded in England.

142mph: The strongest gust recorded at any low-level location in the UK, at Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, on February 13 1989.

173mph: This was the strongest gust ever recorded in the UK, at Cairngorm summit in the Highlands of Scotland on March 20 1986.