BRITAIN woke up to the full force of Storm Katie this morning. Brutal winds forced planes to abort landings and roads to be closed as it battered the UK with 106mph winds. The gale was so strong it BENT a metal crane in two at Greenwich forcing police to close the road. The giant metal structure almost snapped in half, forcing police to evacuate a building at around 2am.
Storm Katie uprooted trees and knocked out electricity to more than 80,000 homes. The Met Office issued a National Severe Weather Warning and an amber warning for strong winds in the South East, marking a miserable end to the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
More than 20 flights heading to Gatwick Airport were diverted, and 16 were cancelled due to the blustery conditions. Several landing attempts were aborted early this morning, with flights diverted to Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Stansted and Cardiff. Heathrow and London City Airport were also affected.
Terrifed passengers took to social media to express their relief at finally landing. Twitter user Ben Vallance said: “Aborted landing at Heathrow. “Plane was getting a battering. Now sat at runway in Cardiff but thankful to be on terra firma #StormKatie.” A Gatwick spokesman said: “Due to Storm Katie, there is some road disruption around Gatwick.
“Please leave some extra time to get to the airport if flying this morning. “Adverse weather has caused a small number of cancellations and diverts this morning. Please check with your airline for the latest info.” There was further travel chaos with roads and bridges forced to shut.
The Dartford River Crossing, M48 Severn Bridge and the Sheppey Crossing were all closed. Flooding forced the temporary closure of the North bound M6 this morning. It has now reopened, but drivers in both directions are being urged to use caution as the road is still holding a lot of standing water.
Several train routes were also cancelled today due to flooding and trees on the line, with speed restrictions imposed on most networks. Buildings and vehicles were damaged by the strong winds. Three-storey high scaffolding collapsed in Reading, scattering bricks and debris onto the roof of a neighbouring Waitrose.
The twisted metal blocked a pedestrian pathway into a shopping centre that was expected to be busy with Easter Monday shoppers. An unmanned light aircraft flipped at a flying school in Clacton on Sea, Essex. Football legend Gary Lineker appeared to have had a narrow escape after the storm blew down a tree just feet from his car.
The Match of the Day pundit posted a picture to his Instagram of himself peeking out of his black car and said: “Well that was close.” Rescue teams had to save five teenagers who got into trouble on an overnight hiking in Dartmoor. The Dartmoor Search and Rescue group braved horrendous conditions for four hours on Sunday.
The hikers were found cold and wet, but safe. UK Power Networks said it had restored power to 40,300 houses since Sunday night. But 41,889 homes are still without electricity in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire , Dorset, Surrey, West Sussex, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight. London Fire Brigade said it had braved the storm to attend 110 incidents over the past two days.
High winds of 106mph were recorded at The Needles in the Isle of Wight. Grahame Madge, Met spokesman, said: “The storm was as severe as we had forecast and, seeing as it was a busy day for travel, we feel the warnings we put out were correct. “Storm Katie is now heading out to the North Sea where she will burn herself out by about 3pm.
“There is nothing yet suggesting we are heading for another name, but we wouldn’t know until between 36 and 48 hours before.” Katie is the eleventh storm to be named since last October and blew in across the Atlantic. Storm names alternate male and female, with the next lined up as Storm Lawrence.
There was a tragic prelude to the storm on Saturday when strong winds ripped a bouncy castle from its moorings and hurled it across a park. Angelic seven-year-old Summer Grant was killed during an Easter fair in Harlow, Essex, The Sun reports.