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(Video) 1,000-mile wide Storm Barra declared a ‘weather BOMB’, reaches British Isles

Waves batter the seafront of Penzance in Cornwall at first light this morning as Storm Barra hits the coast

Forecasters say Barra is now officially a ‘weather bomb’, another name for an ‘explosive cyclogenesis’ this is a rapid fall in pressure of 24 millibars in 24 hours in the central section of an area of low pressure, this has affected about 500 homes in North East England living without power 11 days after Storm struck on November 26.

Storm Barra blasted into the British Isles from the Atlantic today with 80mph gales, up to eight inches of snow and a tornado warning as it was officially declared a ‘weather bomb’ amid fears of more power cuts.

Most of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have been covered by yellow weather warnings for wind amid fears over travel disruption, while a band of snow on the storm’s leading edge was set to bring blizzards in the far north.

Forecasters said Barra was now officially a ‘weather bomb’, another name for an ‘explosive cyclogenesis’, which is when there is a rapid fall in pressure of 24 millibars in 24 hours in the central section of an area of low pressure.

Barra fell from pressure of 1017mb at 6am yesterday to 961mb at 6am today, meaning there was a 56mb drop in 24 hours which therefore developed over double the criteria required for it to become a weather bomb.

Met Office meteorologists added that forecast maps were showing small breaks in the ‘line convection’ – a narrow band of very intense rain and gales – which can be signs of some rotation of weak funnel clouds or tornadoes.

Photographs today showed huge waves smashing into the South West coast in Devon and Cornwall as the 1,000-mile wide tempest roared into the UK, while flooding hit parts of Ireland and there was snow in northern England.

Gusts of 67mph were recorded this morning on the Isles of Scilly, off the far South West coast of England, as Barra moves its way in from the West. There were also 83mph gusts on Sherkin Island, south-west of Co Cork in Ireland.

An extraordinary video filmed from inside the lantern of Fastnet Lighthouse showed huge waves crashing against the structure, located on the remote Fastnet Rock in the Atlantic eight miles off County Cork, during the storm.

The BBC’s Ireland correspondent Chris Page urged people to ‘stay indoors if you can’ in Northern Ireland which is expected to bear the brunt of the storm, although almost all of Britain is under a wind warning. This expires for most of the UK at midnight tonight, but there is also a warning for the South West running until 6pm tomorrow.

Forecasters said larger-than-usual waves in coastal areas could present a possible threat to life if wild winds whip street furniture and beach material into the air – with 35ft waves recorded off South West Ireland this morning.

The Environment Agency has issued 37 flood alerts and five warnings for England, while the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has four alerts and one warning in place and Natural Resources Wales has six alerts in place.

Meanwhile Northern Powergrid said 500 homes in North East England, which are mostly in remote and sparsely populated areas, were still without power today – 11 days after Storm Arwen struck the country on November 26.

Boris Johnson admitted today that ‘too many people have spent too long without power’. Asked if the situation in the North was acceptable, the Prime Minister told reporters: ‘No, I don’t think it is. Too many people have spent too long without power. I have spoken over the last few days to some of the people involved, particularly to the authorities at Northern Powergrid who explained some of the massive technical difficulties they have had.’

He said the firm blamed high winds and frozen equipment but those explanations were ‘no consolation to thousands of people who have been without power’. He added: ‘At the moment they have restored power to 99.9 per cent of those who were without power but what is clear is there are still hundreds more who don’t have it.’

The Prime Minister’s spokesman added: ‘It’s obviously unacceptable that these homes, these families are without power, we’ve seen the situation improve but that will not be of help to those who are still facing this challenge.’ 

Arwen lashed the UK after crossing the Atlantic nearly a fortnight ago with gusts of almost 100mph, and the worst-hit areas were North East England and Scotland. Barra also came in from the Atlantic and the same regions are again set to see the biggest impacts, along with Ireland which has been hit since the early hours of this morning.

Engineers also warned that Barra could ‘hamper progress’ and ‘limit our ability to work safely’, but the problems come despite the Prime Minister saying homes affected by the power cuts would have supply restored by today.