Scores of flights and train services have been cancelled and police have warned motorists to “stay home and eat chocolate” as Storm Katie brought chaos to transport networks.
Passengers told of “scary” aborted landings as planes attempted to make the runways at Gatwick and Heathrow before being diverted to other airports, as winds of up to 106mph battered the south of the country.
Motorists travelling home from the Easter weekend were told to delay their journeys until later this afternoon as weather warnings were issued for London and the South East.
And 900 engineers have been working to restore power to more than 80,000 homes across the south of England after the strong winds caused outages across Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Dorset, West Sussex, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight.
At Heathrow Airport 61 flights were cancelled and 20 were diverted, while at Gatwick Airport, 26 flights were cancelled and 23 diverted.
One passenger, Arnon Woolfson, who was flying into Gatwick with his wife and two children told how his plane was pulled up at last minute.
He said: “The plane was descending and at the very last minute as we came down it pulled up. It was clearly not going to plan.
“The plane was not just going up and down, it was going sideways. There were a lot of crosswinds – it was a mess.
“There was zero visibility and really, really heavy wind and rain.
“Afterwards I went up and told the pilot ‘well done’ because it was a tough one.
“It was pretty hairy – I have been in a couple of aborted landings before and fly a couple of times a week, but it was pretty hairy.”
London Fire Service dealt with 110 incidents overnight including collapsed chimneys and scaffolding.
Rail services also suffered significant disruption because of fallen trees.