Dozens of domestic and international flights have been cancelled as Storm Ciara is set to batter the UK and Ireland with heavy rain and winds of more than 80 miles per hour.
Weather warnings have been issued across the country for Sunday amid forecasts of very strong gusts and the risk of flooding.
Rail companies in England, Scotland and Wales have urged passengers not to travel and say they will operate reduced timetables and speed restrictions on Sunday.
The firms which have issued “do not travel” warnings are Gatwick Express, Grand Central, Great Northern, Hull Trains, LNER, Northern, Southeastern, Southern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express.
It will be a very wet and windy start to #Sunday as #StormCiara starts to cross the UK. Several #WeatherWarnings are in force â ï¸â ï¸â ï¸â ï¸— Met Office (@metoffice) February 8, 2020
Stay safe and keep #WeatherAware pic.twitter.com/PwgcNn1qlQ
The other affected lines are: Avanti West Coast, c2c, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Heathrow Express, Hull Trains, Island Line, London Northwestern Railway, London Overground, Merseyrail, Northern, ScotRail, South Western Railway, Stansted Express, TfL Rail, Transport for Wales and West Midlands Railway.
Strong winds have the potential to damage overhead electrical wires and tracks due to debris or falling trees.
Disruption could continue into Monday morning as repair work may be hampered by the conditions.
Heathrow Airport said it had agreed with its airline partners to “consolidate” Sunday’s flight schedule in a bid to minimise the number of cancelled flights.
British Airways said in a statement: “Like all airlines operating into and out of the UK tomorrow, we are expecting to be impacted by the adverse weather conditions across parts of the UK on Sunday.”
The airline said it was offering rebooking options for customers on domestic and European flights flying to and from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City on Sunday.
We are expecting to be impacted by the adverse weather conditions across parts of the UK on SundayBritish Airways
Virgin Atlantic has posted a list of cancelled flights on its website. It said it was “contacting affected customers and rearranging their travel arrangements”.
Forecasters have warned flying debris could lead to injuries or endanger lives.
Officials also warned of possible damage to buildings and the chance of power cuts.
The Met Office has an amber warning for wind in place for much of England and Wales from 8am until 9pm, while an amber warning for rain applies to parts of Scotland.
Yellow weather warnings cover the whole UK with the heaviest rain expected over high ground, where 50-70mm is expected widely with as much as 100mm in a few locations.
Storm Ciara was named by the Met Office on Wednesday and is moving eastwards across the UK and Ireland.
Alex Burkill, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said the wet and windy weather is “the prelude, if you will, to what is Storm Ciara”.
He said the most pressing of the Met Office warnings is the amber wind warning.
“That’s where we’re likely to see significant impacts from the wind. We’re taking some damage to property, flying debris, and that could bring the risk of injury to people, as well as just the usual things such as power outages and disruption to travel,” he said.
“It is worth bearing in mind that the strong winds on Sunday are going to be very widespread so it’s across the whole of the UK where we’re going to see very strong winds, so the impact will be widespread.”
Mr Burkill said gusts of 70-80mph were expected, “and it could be a little bit stronger than that in some exposed spots”.
Thereâs no escaping #StormCiara as #Blackpool is hit with strong winds and heavy rain🌧— South Shore Fire Stn (@Sth_Shore_Fire) February 9, 2020
Itâs been a busy night responding to flooding incidents along with a flood rescue this morning. Thankfully, our flood rescue heroâs Richard and Katherine were happy to get wet...#NotJustFires pic.twitter.com/gepgBtydWU
The Environment Agency has issued 22 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected and immediate action is required, and 149 alerts, indicating flooding is possible.
Humberside Police said the Humber Bridge was closed to high-sided vehicles.
The opening ceremony of Galway’s year as European Capital of Culture, due to take place on Saturday evening, was cancelled due to bad weather buffeting Ireland’s west coast.
High winds were already causing travel disruption in Scotland, with several bridges closed to high-sided vehicles and ferry passengers facing disruption.
The London Winter Run 10k event – due to be attended by 25,000 runners – was cancelled after organisers said they were “not able to guarantee the safety of our runners, crew and volunteers”.