Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Jon Coates

THE PUBLIC has been ad­vised to stay in­doors to­day as Storm Ciara is ex­pected to bat­ter Bri­tain with 90mph winds and heavy rain.

The 1,000 mile-wide storm, the strong­est to sweep across the coun­try for seven years, will bring travel chaos and the ad­vice is: only travel if ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary.

Ciara will make driv­ing haz­ardous, ground flights and cause trains and fer­ries to be de­layed or can­celled. Power cuts are likely as over­head ca­bles come down.

Thirty foot waves are fore­cast to hit coastal ar­eas of south-west and north-west Eng­land to­day, prompt­ing the Met Of­fice to is­sue am­ber weather warn­ings for most of Eng­land and­wales.

The Met Of­fice and Net­work Rail have both pre­dicted winds of more than 80mph, gust­ing up to 90mph, bat­ter­ing coastal ar­eas, with up to 70mph winds in­land across Eng­land and­wales to­day.

For­mer BBC and Met Of­fice fore­caster John Ham­mond, who now works for the weather trend­ing web­site, said: “Bat­ten down the hatches. It’s the wildest

‘Bat­ten down the hatches for the wildest weather’

weather of win­ter and it’ll feel the cold­est it has all win­ter.”

Si­mon Wil­liams, a spokesman for car break­down ser­vice RAC, said: “It’s Black Sun­day for travel.

“More road ac­ci­dents are ex­pected due to de­bris and ve­hi­cles be­ing blown off course.”

Frank Saun­ders, the Met Of­fice’s chief me­te­o­rol­o­gist, said: “Storm Ciara will bring dam­ag­ing winds and heavy rain across the UK and we have is­sued a range of se­vere weather warn­ings giv­ing peo­ple time to pre­pare for po­ten­tial im­pacts of the storm.”

A spokesman for Me­teogroup said: “Ciara’s 70mph gusts in­land in Eng­land and Wales only hap­pen a few times a decade.”

And the bit­terly cold At­lantic winds from Canada are fore­cast to bring fog, snow and sleet flur­ries to­mor­row with tem­per­a­tures plum­met­ing to mi­nus 5C and bliz­zards in Scot­land.

As a re­sult sev­eral rail firms will op­er­ate re­duced timeta­bles to­day, with speed re­stric­tions in place. Avanti West Coast, London North Eastern Rail­way and South West­ern Rail­way were among train com­pa­nies which said pas­sen­gers with tick­ets for to­day would also be able to use them on some ser­vices to­mor­row. Grand Cen­tral has can­celled all its ser­vices to­day on the East Coast Main Line, the busiest rail route in Bri­tain.

Air­ports are also ex­pected to can­cel some flights, with fer­ries shel­ter­ing in ports. Heathrow grounded 80 flights when 70mph gusts were fore­cast from Hur­ri­cane Gon­zalo in 2014.

With the bit­terly cold winds and rain set to con­tinue, an inch of snow at low lev­els in Scot­land and eight inches on higher ground have been pre­dicted, with bliz­zards po­ten­tially cre­at­ing snow­drifts block­ing roads.

Mr Ham­mond said: “Strong winds will blow win­try show­ers right across the coun­try.

Storm Ciara has forced or­gan­is­ers to can­cel sev­eral public events

planned for to­day, in­clud­ing the London Win­ter Run 10k, in which 25,000 run­ners were due to take part.

Or­gan­is­ers took the de­ci­sion yes­ter­day, say­ing they were “not able to guar­an­tee the safety of our run­ners, crew and vol­un­teers”.

London’s eight Royal Parks, in­clud­ing Hyde Park and Re­gent’s Park, are closed to­day.

In a state­ment they said: “In li­ai­son with our tree ex­perts, and health and safety team, we have made this de­ci­sion to en­sure the safety of all park users.”

PRE­PAR­ING FOR CIARA: A water­front restau­rant at Ply­mouth and (above) a wrecked lorry in Scot­land

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