Storm Ciaran forces school closures and brings travel chaos after 100mph winds

Cars pass a fallen tree in Dover, Kent, as Storm Ciaran brings high winds and heavy rain along the south coast of England (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Cars pass a fallen tree in Dover, Kent, as Storm Ciaran brings high winds and heavy rain along the south coast of England (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Gusts of more than 100mph have left thousands of homes without power, forced school closures and caused travel chaos after Storm Ciaran battered the south of England and the Channel Islands.

Damage to properties in Jersey meant some had to evacuate their homes and seek refuge in a hotel, with one woman saying hailstones “bigger than a golf ball” had broken her windows.

In the south of England on Thursday, hundreds of schools closed because of the risk to pupils and a major incident has been declared in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight because of the expected pressure on local services.

Hailstones in Jersey
Suzie Phillips from Jersey said she saw hailstones ‘bigger than a golf ball’ overnight (Suzie Phillips/PA)

Flooding is expected in 73 areas, according to the Environment Agency, most of which are on the south coast of England.

A further 182 alerts are in place for possible flooding across England.

P&O Ferries said tourist traffic was being sent away from the Port of Dover as severe weather conditions closed the port.

Southern Rail urged commuters to work from home if possible and avoid non-essential journeys due to a strong risk of falling trees and debris blowing on to the tracks.

(PA Graphics)

Cornwall Council said nearly 10,000 homes in the county are without power because of the storm, adding that strong winds and large waves will make coastlines particularly dangerous.

States of Jersey Police said 35 people were moved to hotel accommodation overnight, with three taken to hospital after damage to their homes.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, police said four further people had been moved to other accommodation and Jersey Fire and Rescue Service said gusts had reached up to 104mph.

One Jersey homeowner, Suzie Phillips, told the PA news agency: “The hailstones were quite a bit heavier and bigger than a golf ball and we’ve had three windows damaged by them – in my daughter’s bedroom, a landing and a bathroom.

“It was quite worrying, especially for the kids – they were quite anxious about it.”

A number of amber warnings for wind are in place in the south of England, with the Met Office saying flying debris could result in a danger to life.

Autumn weather November 2nd 2023
Freight lorries queued for entrance to ferry services on the A20 into Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Roofs blowing off buildings, power lines and trees falling down onto roads, and bridges and railway line closures are all possible due to the storm, the Met Office added.

Across the south coast, the amber warning – the second most severe – runs from 6am to 5pm on Thursday with winds expected to reach 70mph to 80mph, with the potential for 85mph and large waves.

A further amber warning is in place until 11am in Devon and Cornwall, with the Met Office predicting Storm Ciaran will bring winds of 75mph to 85mph, with 65mph to 75mph gusts inland.

The Met Office said Jersey Airport had seen wind gusts of up to 93mph on Thursday morning, with Langdon Bay in Kent recording 71mph winds, and the village of Cardinham in Cornwall seeing 68mph gusts.

The French coast saw winds of up to 110mph in western Brittany overnight.

Autumn weather November 2nd 2023
Waves crash over the harbour wall in Folkestone, Kent, as the RNLI urged people to stay away from the coast (Gareth Fuller/PA)

All flights from Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney airports on Thursday have been cancelled.

The major incident was declared by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum, with the local fire service warning there was a “potential risk to life” as well as a risk of damage to buildings, falling trees and flooding.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) urged people watching the conditions to stay away from the coast.

A yellow warning for rain is also in place from 6am on Thursday to 6am on Friday for north-east England and Scotland, stretching up to Inverness.

Charity Age UK said older people living alone, with dementia, or who are seriously unwell need “extra support”, with director Caroline Abrahams saying: “We need to do more in advance and when disasters hit to safeguard older people.”