Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Travel chaos as storms lash Britain

A woman clings to a lamp post as strong winds hit South Shields (AP)
Fallen trees block two lanes of the M74 near Bothwell in Scotland
A lorry lies on its side after being blown over on the A66 in County Durham

Fierce storms have battered Britain with heavy rain and winds gusting over 100mph.

The latest round of unsettled weather added more misery to the January blues as people returned to work after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Around the country trees fell onto railway tracks and power lines, lorries toppled over on busy roads and local authorities issued flood warnings after rivers swelled.

High seas caused the Port of Dover to close, gusts of wind damaged the roof to a stand at Epsom Downs Racecourse and a power surge led to a washing machine catching fire in Wales.

Commuters faced travel chaos as the bad weather meant some East Coast main line trains between London and Scotland had to start and terminate at Newcastle upon Tyne.

Gemma Plumb, a forecaster from Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Everywhere has seen strong winds today. So far we've seen gusts across central and southern parts of Scotland of 85 to 97mph. That's an hourly figure, so there's a chance there may have been stronger gusts of more than 100mph."

Figures published by the Met Office reported wind speeds of 106mph at Great Dun Fell in the north Pennines and 102mph in Edinburgh.

A bus driver had to be freed after a large tree fell on his vehicle, trapping him inside in Witley, Surrey. The single-decker Stagecoach bus was in Petworth Road when the oak tree, measuring 6ft across, fell on to it at about 8.25am.

A Surrey Police spokesman said: "It is believed that the driver, who was freed by fire crews, has suffered serious injuries and he is being taken to St George's Hospital in Tooting. There was only one passenger on board the bus at the time of the incident, who escaped uninjured."

In the South West, the Environment Agency has "yellow" flood alerts active on 21 rivers from Cornwall to Wiltshire. The Tamar Bridge, which spans the river between Devon and Cornwall, has been closed to high-sided vehicles because of strong winds.

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