Updated Feb 18, 2022 - Science

"Danger to life": Storm Eunice lashes U.K. and Ireland, hits mainland Europe

People view the waves created by high winds and spring tides hitting the sea wall at New Brighton promenade on February 17, 2022 in Liverpool, England.
People view the waves created by high winds and spring tides hitting the sea wall at New Brighton promenade in Liverpool, England, on Thursday. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Millions of people were warned to stay home as Storm Eunice began battering the U.K. and Republic of Ireland on Friday, after forecasters issued rare "danger to life" red alerts for populated areas including London.

Why it matters: Eunice, expected to be the worst storm to hit the countries in over three decades, was bearing down on regions still reeling from other deadly storms that struck Northwestern Europe this week.

  • The red warnings expired, but high winds are expected to continue into Friday night across the UK, particularly in eastern and southeastern England.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: There's a distinct threat from this developing bomb cyclone of a "sting jet," or small area of extremely intense wind that can form inside certain storms, hitting South West England with winds up to 100 mph Friday morning.

Threat level: The British Army was on standby as Storm Eunice was expected to be the worst storm to hit the U.K in over three decades, with millions of people told to stay home and hundreds of schools closing on Friday, per the BBC.

  • U.K. Met Office chief meteorologist Frank Saunders said in a statement the "impactful" storm would bring "damaging gusts" to southern and central parts of the U.K.
  • "The red warning area indicated a significant danger to life as extremely strong winds provide the potential for damage to structures and flying debris," Saunders said.
  • The red warning in effect for London in the southeast of England was the first such warning for that area, according to the Met Office.

State of play: Republic of Ireland meteorologists issued red alerts for Cork and Kerry — where there were widespread power outages and wind gusts of 80mph reported in some areas, according to RTE.

Meanwhile, the Met Office warned there would likely be widespread wind damage in some of the most populated areas of England on Friday.

  • In the U.K., the biggest threat was to South West and South East England and South Wales — which on Wednesday recorded winds exceeding 80mph from the earlier Storm Dudley that lashed northern England, southern Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The big picture: Violent storms have slammed parts of the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands this week, killing at least five people and causing widespread power outages and travel disruptions.

Warnings for high winds and coastal flooding are in effect in France and other parts of mainland Europe on Friday. There is a risk of significant storm surge flooding along the coast of northern Germany due to Eunice on Friday and Saturday, forecasters warned.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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