Deadly Storm Arwen dubbed worst UK storm in decades

·5 min read

AccuWeather forecasters say a potent storm brought destructive winds, rain and snow to portions of the United Kingdom from Friday to Saturday. The storm, known as Storm Arwen, ushered in widespread damage, cut off power to more than a quarter of a million customers, prompted a rare weather warning and led to the deaths of at least three people.

One man was killed in Antrim, Northern Ireland, on Friday evening when a tree, damaged by the storm, crushed his car. In Ambleside, England, a man was also killed by a falling tree on Friday evening, according to local law enforcement.

On Saturday, a third death was attributed to Storm Arwen. A man in the Aberdeenshire, Scotland, died on Friday after his pickup truck was struck by a falling tree, according to the BBC.

Established tree branches were snapped like twigs and some trees were even completely uprooted as a result of very strong wind gusts at times from Friday into Saturday.

Off the coast of England, the deadly storm left behind one small piece of beauty - a snowy shoreline. As waves crash onto the beach in Bridlington, England, snowy footprints and water collide in stunning contrast.

Dangerously-strong winds from Storm Arwen led to massive power cuts across portions of the United Kingdom, leaving more than a quarter of a million customers without power at times.

While power was restored to over 217,000 by Monday, tens of thousands of customers still remained in the dark as of Monday night, amid what some officials call the worst storm impacts in decades.

According to the BBC, a spokesperson with the Northern Powergrid said custom support vehicles were out delivering hot water, drinks and phone charging stations to impacted customers. Rod Gardner, the company's major incident manager, told the news outlet that "extensive damage" had been dealt to a large section of the power lines in the area of West Yorkshire."

"The impact from Storm Arwen has been one of the worst we've experienced in the last 20 years," he said.

"Storm Arwen has brought some of the most severe and challenging weather we have experienced in recent years, resulting in significant disruption across the north of Scotland," Mark Rough, director of customer operations at the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, said on Friday night.

Strong winds from Storm Arwen caused extensive damage to the Lanark United Football Club, a Scottish team from South Lanarkshire. (Credit: Lanark United FC via Storyful)

At the peak of the storm, power outage numbers had climbed even higher for northern portions of England.

At one point late Friday, 74,000 customers were without power in England's North West region, the region's power company, Electricity North West, confirmed in a press release on Saturday. An additional 55,000 customers were without power in northeastern Europe, according to Metro Radio News. In southwestern England, 88,000 customers lost power as a result of the storm, the BBC reported.

Strong winds and tree damage also led to major travel disruptions across northern England and much of Scotland. Passengers on a train in eastern Scotland found their journey had come to an abrupt halt on Friday as winds roared. These passengers were stranded for 17 hours after travel was deemed hazardous, according to the BBC.

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Northern Rail, the primary passenger train operator in Northern England, was also forced to shut down a number of routes due to snow, wind or debris on tracks.

The strongest winds from Storm Arwen targeted areas near the border between Scotland and England where wind gusts of 80-90 mph (130-145 km/h) were common. Ahead of these gusts, the Met Office, the official weather service of the United Kingdom, issued a rare red warning for wind on Friday.

Elsewhere, gusts as high as 70-80 mph (115-130 km/h) were widespread across a large swath of the United Kingdom, from eastern Scotland through northern England and even into parts of southwestern England.

Similar to almost any high-wind event, the absolute strongest gusts were recorded at higher elevations. Storm Arwen proved to be no different as a gust of 117 mph (189 km/h) was recorded on Scotland's Cairnwell Mountain.

In addition to strong winds, Storm Arwen also unleashed snow across portions of the United Kingdom. While any significant accumulating snow largely occurred in the higher elevations, even 1-2 inches (3-6 cm) of snow at travel levels caused major issues.

North of Manchester, England, a section of a highway was shut down after 120 trucks were left stranded in the snow following an accident, according to the BBC. Images shared by the North West Motorway Police showed erratic tire tracks imprinted in the snow as heavy snow continued to fall Friday evening, aided by blustery winds.

Storm Arwen continued to spread stormy weather across a large portion of Europe through the early week.

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