LONDON - The worst storm in several years is hitting the U.K. on Sunday, bringing heavy rain, hurricane-force gusts and the expectation of flooding and transport disruption.
As winds picked up and Britain prepared for the storm - dubbed St. Jude and #Stormageddon on social networks - major sports events such as a regular NFL game in London between the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium kicked off regardless.
Prime Minister David Cameron told government agencies to ensure that contingency plans are made for transportation, schools and power supplies during the storm, which could have gusts stronger than 80 mph (128 kph) - akin to those in hurricanes.
Britain does not get hurricanes due to its geographic location.
The storm is expected to move across the country and head out over the North Sea by Monday afternoon. Britain's Met Office said it could cause widespread and severe disruption from falling trees, power cuts and flooding.
Martin Young, the Met Office's chief forecaster, said that while the storm is "major" for the U.K., its winds are not expected to be as strong as those seen in the "Great Storm of 1987, which saw gusts of 115 mph (185 kph) and left 18 people dead.
Ahead of Sunday's storm, Heathrow Airport warned travelers to expect delays. Rail networks canceled many trains preemptively up through Monday morning, citing the high risk of trees and other debris expected to fall on train lines.
Once the so-called St. Jude storm - named after the patron saint of lost causes - passes through Britain, it is expected to hit parts of the Nordics Monday afternoon.
The Danish Meteorological Institute issued a warning, saying winds of hurricane-strength are expected in some parts of Denmark and heightened water levels in western Jutland near the town Esbjerg.
The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute also issued a warning, saying it expects hurricane-strength winds to hit southern and western Sweden on Monday evening, potentially causing damage and disruptions to travel services. It said the stormy weather is expected to subside as it moves north on Tuesday and Wednesday.
CASSANDRA VINOGRAD, Associated Press