Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Heavy wind and rain batters Britain

Pedestrians dash through torrential rain along the Millennium Bridge, Southwark, London, as the remnants of Hurricane Bertha swept across parts of the country.
Vehicles pass through a flooded road in Nottingham
Vehicles pass through a flooded road in Chilwell, Nottingham

Lashing rain and fierce winds have battered parts of Britain today as ex-Hurricane Bertha swept across the country bringing disruption in its wake.

Homes were flooded, music festivals were cancelled and sporting contests had to be re-routed as nearly a month's worth of rain was dumped over parts of Britain in just a few hours.

Heavy winds gusting at up to 70mph battered the country as the Caribbean tropical storm swooped across the UK.

It struck Cornwall in the early hours of the morning, before moving east and northwards thunderstorms with it.

Torrential showers saw 40.6mm of rain fall on Cardiff overnight, while Wisley in Surrey was hit by 18.4mm of rainfall in just one hour, between 9am and 10am this morning.

The number of Met Office flood warnings in force steadily climbed over the course of the day, with 41 in place shortly before 4.30pm this afternoon and spanning all of Britain.

Meanwhile Met Office yellow weather warnings telling people to "be aware" of rainfall for England, Wales and Scotland have now also been extended to Northern Ireland.

Laura Young, a Met Office spokeswoman, said the remnants of Hurricane Bertha had hit and travelled through Britain as predicted.

The eye of the storm will linger off the north coast meaning the turbulent weather will last into next week.

Rachael Vince, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: "The main area of persistent rain is through most of Northern Ireland, across south and west Scotland.

"We had a line of thunderstorms running from northern Yorkshire down to the Greater London area. They developed and went out, but most of the southern half of the UK saw some thundery activity.

"So those doing the bike race through Surrey and London would have got quite soggy."

The RideLondon Surrey Classic, which sees more than 20,000 cyclists pedal through rural Surrey before ending on the Mall, was shortened from 100 miles to 86 - missing out the infamous Box Hill climb - amid fears of heavy rain.

A performance by singer Katherine Jenkins which was due to close the Junction 16 festival at Betley Farm in Cheshire was called off.

The singer tweeted: "I'm here, ready & willing to perform for you at Betley Farm but am gutted to say that I've just been told the show has been called off.

"Even more upsetting to be missing the last show of the summer, especially as I flew in from the states to see you all!

"Thank you to all who bought tickets - I will post details of how to get a refund - it's been a great season & I've loved every minute. Devastated we can't finish on a high!"

The storm flooded properties in Kent and Norfolk while Humberside firefighters said they received a "high volume" of flood-related calls.

London's St James' Park endured 17mm of rain between 7am and 1pm today, but the London Fire Brigade (LFB) admitted some flood-hit Londoners faced delays in getting help because of a strike by fire crew.

LFB said on Twitter: "Apologies if you've been waiting for LFB to attend a flood-related call. We are currently unable to attend because of FBU strike action."

Turnpike Lane station, on the Piccadilly line through north London, was forced to close this afternoon because of flooding and Network Rail said passengers in the south of England had faced delays after bad weather caused flooding at Fulwell station in south-west London, and a tree to blow on to the track on the Henley train line.

Organisers had to postpone the prestigious Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, which was due to kick off in Cowes on the Isle of Wight today. It will set sail at 9am tomorrow instead, to allow the stormy weather to subside.

The last day of the Boardmasters music and surfing festival in Cornwall was axed while Brittany Ferries said it had cancelled its four fast-craft catamaran services between Portsmouth and Le Havre and Cherbourg in France today.

But fears of widespread flooding and evacuations appeared not to materialise. The Red Cross had mobilised hundreds of volunteers who are on standby to help anyone affected by the storm, but did not need to deploy them.

Turbulent weather already wreaked havoc across the east coast of Britain on Friday night, leaving many homes flooded and causing power cuts in 1,400 properties.

Fire crews in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire battled to pump gallons of water out of swamped properties, while marooned drivers had to abandon their cars as they became stuck in flooded roads.

Ms Vince said that after basking in a glorious heatwave for much of July, the curse of the typical British summer had struck again and this week would feel more autumnal, although " a bit of rain in August is nothing unusual".

"We are in an unsettled spell of weather for this week with showers and perhaps some thunderstorms through the rest of the week," she said.

Neil Davies, Environment Agency Flood Risk Manager, warned people to be on their guard because of the adverse weather.

He said: "These heavy showers may lead to localised surface water flooding in some parts of England. The rainfall is accompanied by strong westerly winds, with speeds of up to 70mph in the North East later today.

"The combination of these gusty conditions with high spring tides bring a risk of spray and wave overtopping leading to a risk of localised coastal flooding along parts of the south-west, north-west and north-east coasts of England."

The north of England and Scotland will be hit by more wind and rain over the coming days, while in the south showers will be interspersed with sunny spells.

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