23 Dec 2013

Two people die as storms continue to batter UK

A man and a woman die in separate river incidents as gale force winds wreak havoc on the roads and railways, disrupting people’s Christmas travel plans and leaving thousands without power.

North Wales Police said they were alerted to reports of a woman in a river at Nant Ffrancon, Bethesda at about 4pm today. A police spokesman said she was pronounced dead at the scene, and an investigation is under way.

The man’s body was found in Rothay River in Ambleside. A search was launched after a member of the public reported that he had fallen into the river. His body was recovered and he was also pronounced dead at the scene.

Inspector Chris Wright, from Cumbria Police, said of the man’s death: “It would be fair to say that the river in its current state did not assist the rescue operation. It was fast flowing and a lot more water than normal, so yes, it’s fair to say that the weather contributed to the problem.”

On one of the busiest days of the year with millions of Britons preparing to travel across the country for the festive period, severe gusts of wind have left trees and traffic signs strewn across roads, with train companies up and down the country forced to impose speed restrictions and reduced timetables.

A power cut affected 7,000 homes in Bracknell, Berkshire. In Cornwall, 3,000 customers were left without power after high winds left overhead lines down, according to Western Power Distribution. The Tamar Bridge in Plymouth, between Devon and Cornwall, has been closed to high vehicles, motorbikes and caravans due to high winds.

Firefighters in Gloucestershire were called to rescue a man and a woman from the A48 in Newnham On Severn who were trapped in their car after a tree fell on top of it.

In Goonhavern, in Cornwall, part of a barn roof flew off into the road and wedged itself against a lorry. Firefighters were called to a building on The Wharf, in St Ives, to deal with two feet of flooding.

One of the worst hit areas has been Berryhead, in Devon, where wind speeds reached 90 miles per hour between midnight and 10am.

A fallen tree at Brixham damaged a car, and meant a main road had to be closed while it was cut away, causing long delays. Road signs were also lying across the carriageway on the M5 southbound on the bridge before the A30/A380 junction.

Passengers hoping to travel on trains have also been frustrated by cancellations of a number of services. Greater Anglia has already cancelled 56 trains scheduled to run on Monday, and Virgin Trains has said that it will not be able to run a full service due to a 50 mile per hour speed limit between London Euston and Birmingham New Street imposed by Network Rail.

Trains between Effingham Junction and Guildford, south of London, were also delayed by up to an hour due to a tree blocking the line, according to National Rail.

Passengers have been urged to travel as early as possible, with ticket restrictions for trains lifted to enable them to do so. Ferry services to France have also been disrupted.

Essex Police closed the QEII Bridge at Dartford shortly before midday for 16 hours. A spokesman for Essex Police said: “The tunnels will remain open to help maintain the flow of traffic, but congestion is expected to drivers are advised to see alternative routes if possible or avoid the Thurrock and Dartford areas of Essex and Kent.”

Laura Young, a spokeswoman for the Met Office, warned of more rain across England today, but warned that the worst may be yet to arrive in Scotland. She said: “There are warnings of ice for most of Scotland tomorrow morning, because of snow today and rain overnight combined with cold weather.

“Northern Ireland may also see gusts of wind of 80 miles per hour.

“Later today there will be a second wave of rain coming through from the south west [of England] moving towards the north east unil the early hours of the morning. It’s going to be windy [in England] tomorrow, but it’s going to be a clearer day.”

The Met Office has issued amber weather warnings – the second most severe warning – for the east of England, London and South East England, South West England and Wales.

Parts of Scotland, Wales, the west midlands and Yorkshire are subject to yellow weather warnings.

Worst hit

Scotland - Cairngorm Mountain had 100 mph winds.

Wales - winds of 87 mph in Capel Curig, conwy County Borough and 73 mph in Pembrey Sands, Dyfed; rainfall of 30.6mm over 12 hours in Libanus, Powys, and 28.4mm in Tredegar, Gwent.

Devon - winds of 76mph in Berry Head, Torbay

Cumbria - winds of 68mph in St Bees Head

West Yorkshire - 64mph winds in Emley Moor

Yeovil, Somerset - 62mph winds

Network Rail imposed 50mph speed restriction on routes across the country.

Services delayed, cancelled or diverted on Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands, First Capital Connect, First Great Western, first Hull, First TransPennine Express, Gatwick Express, Grand Central, Greater Anglia, Heathrow Connect, Heathrow Express, Island Line, London Midland, Northern Rail, South West, Southeastern, Southern, Stansted Express, Virgin Trains.

19 cancellations in two hours to and from London to Hastings, speed restrictions of 50 mph with Southeastern trains.

13 train cancellations in two hours for Great Western services, including London Paddington to Oxford, and services between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington, and between Plymouth and Penzance. Delays and reduced services on at least 12 other train journeys over two hours.

No services to or from Exeter St Davids/Yeovil junction under South West trains; trees on the line causing problems for journeys between Basingstoke and Winchester, Salisbury and Exeter St Davids; London Waterloo to Reading; Malden Manor and Chessington South.

Reduced service on Bedford to Brighton Thameslink.

Rail services suspended between Newton Abbot and Paignton in Devon due to flooding.

Buses replaced due to fallen tree between Effingham Junction and Guildford, Surrey.

M25 Essex closed, queuing traffic and long delays.

Hazardous driving conditions on the M6 between junction 38 at Tebay, and junction 40, Penrith.

Rain and surface water caused disruption on M5 Somerset southbound, between A358 and A38.

A30 Devon closed in both directions between Okehampton Services and Whiddon Down due to flooding.

A30 Berkshire closed and blocked in both directions at Shrubbs Hill Lane junction due to fallen tree.

M42 lane closed on entry slip northbound at Birmingham Airport due to flooding.

A9 Perth and Kinross closed in both directions between Blair Atholl and Newtonmore due to snow.

A110 Enfield Road, Greater London, closed in both directions near Bincote Road junction due to fallen tree.

A6 between Hackthorpe and Thrimby partially blocked due to falling tree and A6 at Plumpton flooded. Eamont Bridge fo cliburn Road, Penrith, blocked due to flooding.

Several cancellations into Bristol Airport and diversions to Birmingham, Cardiff and Stansted.

Planes "rocking side to side" at Gatwick.

Disruption to flights to and from Heathrow Airport, Gatwick, Aberdeen International, London City, George Best Belfast City, Belfast International, Edinburgh International, Glagow International, Guernsey and Southampton Airports due to high winds.
Storm damage

Power cut affecting 7,000 homes in Bracknell, Berkshire, and 3,000 customers in Cornwall.

QEII Bridge at Dartford closed due to high winds.

Vehicle struck a bridge at Morton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, causing trains to run more slowly.

Train had to be freed after it struck a tree in Tolworth, blocking the line in both directions between Motspur Park and Chessington South. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters called to damaged roof at Gloucester Bus Station.

Firefighters in Gloucestershire were called to rescue a man and a woman from the A48 in Newnham On Severn who were trapped in their car after a tree fell on top of it.

A large section of a barn roof in Goonhavern, Cornwall, had blown off into the road and wedged against a lorry, an appliance winch was used to secure the debris and crews proceeded to make the area safe.