BRITS have been urged not to travel during Storm Franklin today as more than 400 homes were evacuated and train stations are left underwater.
A tornado warning is in place as the third devastating storm in just five days slammed into the UK overnight, bringing 87mph winds.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated in south Manchester after concerns the severe rainfall could cause endanger lives as the River Mersey swells.
This morning, National Rail has told people to avoid rail travel if possible today – and say that even when services resume, there’ll be “major disruption” to routes “across most of Great Britain”.
Almost every rail company in the country, including the Heathrow Express, Stansted Express, Cross Country and Thameslink, says its trains will be affected.
South Western Railway says the weather conditions were “likely to hamper efforts to help stranded customers”.
TransPennine Express is strongly urging customers to “avoid travel if possible”, particularly those planning to travel north of Preston in Lancashire before 10am.
Operations director Paul Watson said: “Due to the impact of Storm Franklin, train services are disrupted along the West Coast Mainline.”
Great Western Railway said commuters must travel only “if absolutely necessary” as services are expected to be “significantly disrupted across the network”.
Company Greater Anglia has warned the line between Southminster and Wickford is blocked as a result of “extensive damage” this morning – and said: “Please only travel if essential.”
‘ROTHERHAM LOOKS LIKE VENICE’
Northern has shared a photo from Rotherham station showing the line is completely underwater – and says replacement bus services aren’t available.
British Transport Police South Yorkshire tweeted: “Rotherham station resembles the canals of Venice!”
And Merseyrail says damaged barriers between Southport and Birkdale means trains are currently unable to leave Southport station.
Transport for London said the London Overground is suspended between Stratford and Richmond, Stratford and Clapham Junction, Romford and Upminster, and Sydenham and West Croydon due to damage caused by severe weather.
British Airways cancelled 17 flights from Heathrow travelling to destinations around Europe this morning.
A Virgin Airways pilot was also forced to abandon a landing at Manchester Airport today, instead flying to Heathrow.
On the roads, several major bridges were closed this morning, including the M48 Severn Bridge connecting England and Wales, and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex.
In the North West, the M60 in Greater Manchester is closed between junctions 10 and 11 after an HGV overturned.
The M6 was closed in Lancashire between junction 27 and 28 after an lorry hit a bridge and caught fire in high winds.
Meanwhile, 29,000 homes in Sligo and Donegal, Ireland are without power today, and around 4,500 homes have been left in the dark for three days in West Sussex.
It comes as:
It’s the first time since significant storms were given names back in 2015 that three have followed in such a short space of time.
Franklin, an 800-mile wide squall, will bring “severe and damaging gusts” and torrential downpours, The Met Office warned.
Storm Franklin’s highest gust of 87mph was recorded at the Needles on the Isle of Wight overnight, followed by gusts of 79mph on a mountaintop in Wales.
That compares to a 122mph high on Friday during Storm Eunice.
An amber warning for wind was in place across Northern Ireland from midnight until 7am. It has now lapsed.
Yellow warnings cover the whole of England and Wales and parts of Scotland until 1pm on Monday.
Intense downpours have already caused dangerous flooding in some parts overnight.
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There are currently two rare “severe” flood warnings in place near the River Mersey – alongside 315 other flood alerts.
Yorkshire was expected to be one of the worst-hit places.
The River Don burst its banks in Doncaster, South Yorks, on Sunday night – and police have warned people to stay away from dangerous “fast flowing” water.
And in Northern Ireland, Londonderry and Tyrone will be hit with the worst flooding as the torrent continues.
In Shropshire, the River Severn has been threatening to burst its banks with emergency teams erecting flood barriers along the waterway – while several areas in Wales are expected to flood.
This comes after huge waves were seen crashing onto coastal areas, homes were destroyed by strong winds, and emergency services deployed flood defences along swelling riverbanks on Sunday.
Colossal waves have been captured engulfing Newhaven lighthouse in West Quay, East Sussex, and Porthcawl Lighthouse in Bridgend, Wales.
Katharine Smith, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, urged people to “stay away from swollen rivers” while teams deploy temporary barriers and pumps on the river.
She said: “We advise people to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car.
“Residents close to the River Mersey are being warned to take immediate action and prepare for property flooding.”
Earlier Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna shared a warning from the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation on Twitter.
It said: “Although a very low risk, a tornado or two is possible associated with today’s squally cold front.”
The storm will bring two inches of snow to the north.
The Met Office has issued a slew of weather alerts, with millions facing misery from high winds as they travel to work on Monday.
Forecasters say blasts will cause even more power cuts, transport delays and damage.
The run of terrible weather began with Storm Dudley on Wednesday.
Meteorologist Becky Mitchell said three named storms in such quick succession is a first since the system was introduced seven years ago.
“It’s the first time we’ve had three named storms within a week, and we started the storm-naming system in 2015,” she said.
“We’ve got a really active jet stream, which is why we’re seeing so many storms track right towards the UK.
“We had Dudley on Wednesday, Eunice on Friday and Franklin today.”
Her colleague Craig Snell told Sun Online conditions will finally ease next week.
“It’ll be blustery as we go through the week, but everything looks a little bit more typical for this time of year,” he said.
“It’ll be windy, but at the moment, there aren’t any warnings past Monday, and we’re certainly not looking at naming more storms in the days to come.
“After we get rid of Franklin, it’ll still be windy, but hopefully not on the same scale as the past few days.
“It’s certainly been very, very unsettled recently.
“This has been a very notable spread of weather.”
He said the strongest winds will lash the country this morning.
“The most likely place for disruption is Northern Ireland, but there could also be impacts along the Lancashire and Merseyside coast, and maybe up into North Wales,” he said.
“During the small hours, winds could reach 80mph along the north coast of Northern Ireland, while any coastline attached to the Irish Sea could easily see gusts of 60 to 70mph.”
Friday saw the worst storm in years with Eunice, which brought down trees, tore roofs from houses and toppled power lines.
The Energy Networks Association said it believes the UK may have experienced a record outage over a 24-hour period during the tempest, with around 1.3million homes affected.
More than 56,000 people around the UK are still without power.
Last night, Ross Easton of the organisation said 8,000 engineers are working to reconnect customers in a huge national effort, but many homes will still be in the dark next week.
At the height of the storm, the roof of the O2 Arena in London was damaged – causing rapper Dave’s upcoming concerts to be postponed – and the spire of St Thomas Church in Wells, Somerset, crashed to the ground.
The O2 said that it expected the scheduled UB40 gig to go ahead as planned on Friday. The venue will remain closed until then while repairs are carried out.
The Association of British Insurers indicated that the clean-up across the UK could cost more than £300m.
A spokesman said: “No two storms are the same. The last significant storms to hit the UK – Ciara and Dennis – led to insurers paying out over £360m.”
Tragically, three Brits and an Irishman are known to have been killed on Friday.
However, there was little respite even after winds eased as new alerts came into force for gales yesterday.
Forecaster Aidan McGivern said: “The winds pick up significantly later in the day on Sunday.
“There’s the risk for northern parts of the country – northern England, Scotland, Northern Ireland – of 50 to 60mph gusts inland and 70 to 80mph around exposed coasts and hills.”