Large waves and strong winds hit during Storm Eunice, in Porthleven, Cornwall, Britain, February 18, 2022.
Large waves and strong winds hit during Storm Eunice, in Porthleven, Cornwall, Britain, February 18, 2022. Reuters / TOM NICHOLSON

An Atlantic storm battered southern Britain and Ireland with winds of up to 100 miles per hour on Friday, uprooting trees, stranding travellers and hammering London.

Storm Eunice, which began in the central Atlantic and was spun up from the Azores towards Europe by the jet stream, posed a danger to life, Britain's Meteorological Office said.

The storm hit western England, making landfall in Cornwall, where waves lashed the coast, sending plumes of spray over the roofs of cottages, Reuters pictures showed.

"Storm Eunice is really packing a punch," Met Office Chief Meteorologist Frank Saunders said. "We only issue red weather warnings when we think there is a threat to life from the weather."

Roofs were blown off, schools closed and travellers and authorities forced to cancel flights, ferries and trains across England and southern Wales. London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged Londoners to stay at home.

Gale force winds were recorded across the southern English coast with warnings of large waves. Many schools were closed. Trains were cancelled or running slow. London City Airport said 64 flights had been cancelled.

"Safety is our number one priority, and we're cancelling a number of flights," BA said. "We're expecting extreme weather conditions at airports across the UK as a result of Storm Eunice, which will cause significant disruption."

Danish ferry operator DFDS said in a statement posted on Twitter that its ferries between Dover and Calais have been suspended due to high winds.

Such red warnings are relatively rare. The last one issued was in November 2021. Scotland has issued yellow warnings for heavy snow.

The British government will hold a COBR emergency response meeting to discuss the response to the storm.

Britain's security minister, Damian Hinds, said troops were on standby to deal with the consequences of the weather.

"We should all follow the advice and take precautions to keep safe," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. "I thank responders for all their efforts."

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Muvija M; Editing by Kate Holton and Barbara Lewis)