The tempest – feared to be the worst in 30 years – has led to a red warning in London from 10am to 3pm with people told to expect falling trees, flying debris, severe flooding, roofs blown off and downed power lines.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the army is on standby amid fears of blocked roads and rail routes, flight cancellations and the threat of 40ft waves on our shores.
Commuters have been told to stay at home and not travel where possible. A swathe of companies urged people not to travel including LNER, Southeastern, Southern and Thameslink.
A speed restriction of 50 mph will also be in place across the network with no guarantees of rail replacement services.
One 50 foot tree is blocking a line from Dorking into London Waterloo with engineers being scrambled to clear it.
East Midlands Railway has advised its customers that trains to and from London St Pancras “may be withdrawn at short notice” due to Storm Eunice.
“You should only travel if your journey is unavoidable,” the firm added on Twitter.
London North East Railway urged customers with tickets for Friday to travel on Saturday instead or get a refund due to expected disruption and damage.
A National Rail statement warned that all rail networks across the UK will be affected by the storm.
They added: “High winds can lead to speed restrictions being imposed for safety reasons. Trains then need to travel more slowly, leading to extended journey times.
“They can also lead to trees and debris being blown onto train lines which blocks train movements.”
Parks and attractions
The storm has closed the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and River Cruises are shut.
The London Eye and River Cruise’s Twitter account said: “Due to severe weather disruption the London Eye and River Cruise has taken the difficult decision to close Friday.”
Parks at Hampstead Heath in North London will close, as will those in Hammersmith and Fulham and Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets.
Attractions including Legoland and Warwick Castle are temporarily closing.
National Highways issued a warning from 6am to 6pm on Friday adding high-sided vehicles and other “vulnerable” vehicles such as caravans and motorbikes could be blown over so should avoid bridges and viaducts.
National Highways head of road safety Jeremy Phillips urged those travelling to “plan your trip and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey”.
He said: “In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down.”
National Highways announced the Orwell Bridge in Suffolk was closed in both directions with the Dartford Crossing joining it in shutting about 5am.
Rod Dennis of the RAC said: “Drivers who make unnecessary journeys risk putting themselves and their passengers in danger, as well as the lives of anyone who may need to help them should something unwanted happen.
“People who can work from home on Friday should definitely do so.”
The severe weather has prompted the Met Office to issue a rare “stay indoors” warning.
People have been warned to “tie down” objects in their gardens and be wary of fierce winds which could cause trees to topple over and tiles to fly off buildings.
Home Office minister Damian Hinds told Sky News: “We are strongly encouraging people to take precautions and make sure they stay safe.”
Asked if people could get “cut off” by the storm, Mr Hinds said that was “absolutely a risk”, and the red weather warning indicated a “risk to life and limb”.
Several schools in the south of England are set to remain closed but London’s schools remain open.
So far only Dorset Council and Hampshire County Council have asked schools not to open.
“With the Met Office warning of significant risk to life, we feel this is the only safe option,” Hampshire County Council said in a message sent to parents.
British Airways said the rate of aircraft permitted to land at Heathrow Airport “is being reduced due to gale force winds”.
Gatwick and Stansted are advising customers to check the status of their flights with airlines, as well as allowing plenty of time to travel.
At Heathrow on Friday, at least 65 flights – both departures and arrivals – were cancelled and a further 114 were delayed by more than 15 minutes, according to aviation data provider FlightStats by Cirium.
Heathrow airport said on Twitter: “High winds and poor weather may cause last-minute delays, but we will do everything in our power to minimise any disruption that results.”
At Gatwick there were 15 cancellations and 67 delayed flights.