Storm Ciarán: Violent winds lash southern England and Channel Islands

Lives could be put at risk in the UK and parts of the British Isles as Storm Ciarán hits, forecasters have warned.

Powerful winds and rain are already lashing southern England and gusts of up to 95mph (152km/h) are expected to hit the Channel Islands.

The Met Office has warned of travel disruption and damage to buildings, prompting the declaration of a major incident in Hampshire.

There are also 33 flood warnings in place across England.

A red wind warning, the highest level, has been issued by Jersey Met for Wednesday night into Thursday.

Storm-force gusts, heavy rainfall and coastal flooding are expected in the Channel Islands, where conditions could be some of the worst seen in decades and flood defence measures have been put in place.

Yellow and amber warnings for wind and rain - indicating potential risks to life and property - have been issued by the Met Office for parts of England and Scotland.

An amber warning of wind has been issued for South West England from 03:00 GMT to 11:00 on Thursday, and for the East of England and the South East from 06:00 to 17:00 on Thursday.

Heavy rain was pushing into parts of Cornwall and Devon on Wednesday evening. The Met Office said there was some uncertainty around the path of the storm, but the "greatest impacts (are) likely along the south coast".

The Met Office says the UK has provisionally recorded the joint-sixth wettest October on record, after the heavy rain brought by Storm Babet. Eastern Scotland had its wettest October since records began in 1836, with 82% more rain than its average.

A DFDS ferry leaves the Port of Dover in Kent
A DFDS ferry leaves the Port of Dover in Kent

Gusts are likely to reach 70-80mph (113-129 km/h) in some coastal areas in southern England, and in a few coastal spots may exceed 85mph (123 km/h). And20-30mm of rain is expected in southern and western areas.

Weather warnings
An amber warning of wind has been issued for South West England from 03:00 to 11:00 on Thursday, and for the East of England and the South East from 06:00 to 17:00 on Thursday.

Other key developments include:

The power of the storm is created by a phenomenon known as explosive cyclogenesis - sometimes dubbed a "bomb cyclone" - where an area of low pressure rapidly deepens and strengthens, causing the weather system to violently rotate.

The amber warnings for wind could cause structural damage, the Met Office warned.

It said gusts could blow off roofs, bring down powerlines and disrupt transport routes.

Flying debris could be a danger to life, it said, and there is the potential for large waves and beach material being thrown onto coastal roads.

Some businesses and residents in Guernsey have been putting out sandbags in preparation

There are also yellow warnings for rain for eastern England, London, the South East, South West, North West, West Midlands and Wales from 18:00 on Wednesday.

And yellow warnings for wind are in place for the East of England, London, South East, South West and Wales from 21:00 on Wednesday to 23:59 on Thursday.

In Scotland, a yellow warning for rain has been issued for the south west and Lothian Borders from 06:00 Thursday to 06:00 Friday. An earlier warning for rain in Northern Ireland has been cancelled but the region has already seen some flooding.

Waitrose shelves
Shelves have been left empty at supermarkets across Jersey, including Waitrose in St Brelade

East Devon District Council said a temporary barrier of sand and a fabric membrane were being put in place to reduce the impact of waves from the storm.

With trees still in full leaf and the ground already saturated, Devon County Council said there was a high chance that there would be a lot of debris on the roads and a risk of highway flooding.

It said it would have additional staff monitoring the highways, as well as tree surgeons and gully jetters on standby to keep drains and gullies as clear as possible.

Exmouth seawall repairs
Work is being carried out on Exmouth's seawall to reduce the impact of waves until full repairs can be done

Storm Ciarán follows localised weather-related incidents last weekend when large waves brought down coastal barriers in North Tyneside and homes were evacuated and shops were damaged when a village in County Durham was deluged by "several feet of water".

In West Sussex on Sunday, a caravan park in Bognor Regis was submerged, the town's Tesco supermarket car park was flooded, and the roof of a house was ripped off in heavy winds that residents described as like a "tornado".

Experts say a warming atmosphere increases the chance of intense rainfall and storms.

However, many factors contribute to extreme weather and it takes time for scientists to calculate how much impact climate change has had on particular events - if any.

The world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.

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