Major disruption as Storm Eunice hits Cornwall

Penryn River | Lars Mucklejohn

One of the worst UK storms in 30 years, Storm Eunice hit Cornwall today and has caused widespread disruption, including to university studies.

At least four people have been killed in the UK and Ireland as the storm brought fierce winds reaching up to 122mph on the Isle of Wight, which set a provisional record for England.

The Met Office issued rare red weather warnings for coastal areas of Cornwall between 7am and 12pm, as well as elsewhere in the South West, South East, and south Wales. The warning expected a “a significant danger to life as extremely strong winds provide the potential for damage to structures and flying debris”.

Flood warnings have also been issued across the UK, and the Army is on standby to help.

A major incident was declared in Cornwall. Train services across the county were cancelled, and Great Western Railway advised people not to travel today. Bus routes were limited and over 30 roads closed due to fallen trees, with Cornwall Council advising residents to only travel if “absolutely necessary”.

An unoccupied parked car was crushed by a falling tree in Falmouth, and roofs were torn from several buildings across the county.

Devon and Cornwall Police reported receiving over four times as many calls as usual, mostly regarding fallen trees and power cables, flying debris, and collapsed roofs.

Businesses have closed, and as of this afternoon, around 27,000 homes across Cornwall were without power amid outages. Western Power Distribution is restoring power and working alongside the Red Cross to prioritise vulnerable people. The council urged people to look out for vulnerable neighbours over the weekend.

Police and the Coastguard warned people to avoid the coast amid reports of people climbing seawalls and swimming in the sea.

Treliever Road, Penryn | Lars Mucklejohn

Schools across Cornwall were closed today, and Falmouth University moved all learning and teaching online.

The University of Exeter yesterday advised students and staff “to avoid unnecessary travel” but added that on-campus teaching and research would continue “if students are able to safely travel”. The university updated its guidance this morning to note “some risk of debris” and advise students and staff “to avoid coming to our Penryn Campus today unless strictly necessary”.

In-person activity at Penryn Info Point and Career Zone was suspended, and the Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union worked online.

Vehicular access to Penryn Campus was limited by two trees falling on Treliever Road this morning. Highways England called in tree surgeons to fully clear the road.

A tree also fell near the library on Falmouth Campus but was quickly cleared.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning for wind in the southern UK to last until 9pm today.

Further weather warnings and travel disruption are expected tomorrow.