x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

UK braces for hurricane winds in worst storm since 2008

Southern England and Wales are preparing for winds up to 130kph that may damage buildings and cause widespread disruption.

LONDON // Southern England and Wales are preparing for winds of 100kph to 130kph late tonight that may damage buildings and cause widespread disruption.

Wind strength may be similar to storms last seen in 2007 and 2008, the UK’s Met Office said on its website, issuing an amber alert, the middle category of a three-stage warning system that asks people to be prepared. The winds may last from late tonight through to the morning of October 28, according to the Met office’s last update at 4am today.

“Winds of this strength could bring down trees or cause structural damage, potentially causing transport disruption or power cuts,” the Met office said. It also warned that heavy rain may increase the risk of flooding.

The gusts may lead to shutdowns at turbines including those at the London Array, the world’s biggest offshore wind-power site, which automatically halt when wind speeds exceed 90kph.

Gusts around the London Array are forecast at about 130kph, Barrie Englishby, a production manager at the project in the sea east of London, said yesterday in an email. Structurally, the turbines and offshore sub- stations are designed to withstand conditions “far in excess” of those forecast, he said.

The London Array is owned by EON SE, Dong Energy A/S and Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. It has 175 Siemens AG turbines with a total capacity of 630 megawatts, enough to power almost half a million UK homes, according to its website.

South West Trains, a London commuter train operator, said maintenance teams would visit sites across its network to prepare for the storm.

“The risk of falling trees as well as damage to buildings and equipment is high,” the company said in a statement on its website. “These conditions present risks to the railway from localised flooding, fallen trees and debris on the tracks.”

London residents should clear their gardens of furniture and stay inside if possible, the London Fire Brigade said on its website.

“London could be hard hit by the severe weather, so we’re reminding people to be extra careful,” Steve Hamm, the brigade’s head of operational resilience, said in the statement.

Wind power generation will peak at 5,501 megawatts on October 27 and 4,214 megawatts on October 28, up from a maximum of 3,667 megawatts yesterday, according to Bloomberg’s wind supply model. It rose to a record 5,773 megawatts on September 15, according to National Grid Plc data.

While the storm is most likely to cut across southern England, there is a moderate probability that it will track across the midlands and the north of England and a low probability it will miss the English mainland to the south, the Met Office said this week.

Sustained winds of around 120kph constitute a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

UK farm income dropped 14 per cent last year as the second-wettest weather on record reduced harvests and costs climbed, according to government data. Summer 2013 was the driest since 2006 and the 16th driest since 1910, Met Office data show.

* Bloomberg