THICK fog grounded hundreds of flights at Britain’s busiest airport today as Storm Diana forecast threatens weather chaos for the UK.
As many as 62 flights to or from London Heathrow were disrupted by noon today — with a further 380 were delayed by more than 15 minutes.
Thousands of passengers were affected with as many as one in three flights disrupted.
British Airways alone saw 45 cancellations and 237 delays at the West London hub.
In the East of the capital, London City saw 62 cancellations and 46 delays — while Gatwick in the South West fared better with no cancellations but 173 delays, according to FlightStats data.
The dense fog also affected trains in the South East with Southern and Thameslink services the heaviest hit.
A statement on the National Rail Enquiries website read: “Southern and Thameslink have received a number of reports from drivers that due to heavy fog they are having to run at a reduced speed due to reduced visibility.
“When thick fog is present, drivers are unable to see signals from their normal distances and to continue to operate safely they must drive at reduced speeds so that they are able to view signals.”
It comes as the UK was braced for a blast of 80mph gales and heavy rain as Storm Diana sweeps in from the Atlantic.
The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings from 3am on Wednesday until 3pm on Thursday.
As much as two inches of rain will be brought in on the winds as the huge storm front barrels in from the Azores.
A member of London City airport staff takes a photo of the flight board as dozens of flights are disrupted by dense fog[/caption]
A number of flights were cancelled from London City airport this morning due to the fog[/caption]
Diana is expected to make landfall tomorrow along the west coast of Britain from Cornwall to the Shetland Islands.
The UK weather forecast has sparked warnings of flooding, power cuts, traffic chaos and mobile phone outages.
Richard Miles, a spokesman for the Met Office, told The Sun Online: “The weather from Storm Diana will affect us tomorrow and overnight as there will be strong winds and rain.
“We can expect gusts of 60mph and in the most exposed westerly places along the western coast from Cornwall to the Shetland Islands could see gusts of up to 70mph.
“The rain warning applies to Scotland and the eastern central Scotland, where up to 50mm is expected to fall in localised areas.”
Cyclists make their way along Brighton seafront in thick fog this morning[/caption]
Morning commuters walk on Westminster Bridge shrouded in thick fog[/caption]
Commuters at Birmingham New Street station. Even train services were affected by the thick fog[/caption]
He added: “The rain warning is not as widely distributed as the wind warning. The wind is the major thing to look out for.
“Across the UK will get heavy and persistent rain but not as much as Scotland.
“We can expect 20mm to 40mm to fall elsewhere across the country.”
This week the Met Office warned of a “danger to life” as the 2,000-mile-wide double cyclone – named by the Portuguese weather service – is headed for the UK.
Yellow weather warnings are in place for rain and wind, with delays to public transport likely traffic chaos in exposed areas.
Loss of power is expected in some areas on the west coast of the UK and Northern Ireland reaching northern Scotland.
As the storm makes landfall, western coastal areas could also be battered by large waves.
The Met Office has also warned that heavy rain in Scotland could lead to travel disruption and flooding in some areas.
Storm Diana, named by the IMPA Portuguese weather service, is the fourth major storm system to hit the UK this autumn.
A huge region of low pressure from two Atlantic storms is set to drag storm surges into Britain’s western coastlines — and could breach sea defences.
The Met Office’s Mr Miles said: “People will need to be careful on coastal roads, which will be affected by spray and large waves.
“People will need to exercise care around those areas.”
FIVE DAY OUTLOOK: What to expect this week
Tuesday: Wet and windy in the west, with coastal gales, although brighter later. Murky in central and eastern parts, perhaps briefly brightening up before cloud, rain and strong winds arrives later.
Wednesday through to Friday: Unsettled throughout Wednesday and Thursday with gales likely and spells of heavy rain, although very mild. Turning colder and showery on Friday with some brightness but remaining windy.
Into December: Further unsettled and milder weather is possible through the first week of December, however it looks like things should start to turn drier and colder towards the following weekend.
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And the Environment Agency has released flood alerts for parts of South East England, particularly from Putney Bridge to Teddington Weir.
Meanwhile, bookies have slashed the odds on a White Christmas blowing in.
Bookmakers Coral cut white Christmas odds to 7/4 in Aberdeen and 2/1 in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
A spokesman said: “Bookies are in a shiver about the festive freeze.”
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