A NUMBER of Aer Lingus flights between Ireland and London's Heathrow Airport, as well as ferry crossings, have been cancelled this morning as the UK braces itself for the worst storm to hit in years.
Aer Lingus last night announced it had been forced to cancel four flights between Dublin and London Heathrow as well as one flight each way between London Heathrow and Cork and Belfast as southern England and Wales brace for a major storm overnight, which is expected to bring hurricane-force winds and heavy rain.
Other airlines operating to and from Ireland had not followed suit at the time of going to press last night.
Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely said the airline was reviewing the situation, but no flights between Ireland and the UK were cancelled yesterday and none are expected to be cancelled this morning.
However, he said the situation could change and the airline was advising passengers to check the company's website for any updates.
But a spokesman for Aer Lingus said that "due to the severe weather forecast for London Heathrow all airlines have been advised to reduce their schedules".
Affected customers will be accommodated on the next available flight or can change their bookings or request a refund on the company's website.
Adverse weather conditions also forced the cancellation this morning of all train services between London's Gatwick Airport and London city centre.
Strong winds also led to the cancellation of some ferry crossings yesterday and today, including Irish Ferries' fast craft Jonathan Swift and some of Stena Line's services. While Met Eireann forecasters expect Ireland will escape the storm, some parts of the country were battered with wind and rain yesterday. Winds of up to Storm Force 10 were expected to lash the north and west coasts last night as the blustery conditions continued over the bank holiday weekend.
Lightning storms in the southwest disrupted internet and phoneline connections on Saturday night, while the Atlantic coast remained blustery with the Coastguard warning of sea swells reaching 20 feet. Valentia Coastguard is also advising people to avoid exposed coasts and cliff walks and not to venture out to sea unnecessarily.
Strong gusting winds and rain forced organisers of the Samhain Halloween Festival at Dublin's Marlay Park to cancel yesterday's haunted trail event.
However, Met Eireann forecaster Jim O'Brien said most of the country was expected to emerge fairly unscathed from the Atlantic storm, which is expected to pass over the south of Ireland early this morning as it moves towards the Welsh coast.
"The storm is approaching but it's expected to pass to the south overnight," he told the Irish Independent.
"We should avoid it unless something terrible happens," he added.
Today will remain blustery as more seasonal weather accompanied the official start of Winter Time yesterday.
Some 14,500 runners taking part in today's Dublin City Marathon should get off to a dry start but there will be scattered showers throughout the morning with temperatures not exceeding 10 to 12C, he said.