Belfast Telegraph

Weather wreaks chaos for travellers

A combination of gales and heavy rain brought misery to UK travellers and cut the power supply of thousands of homes.

High winds, flooding, fallen trees and unsafe buildings have led to road closures, bridge restrictions and cancelled rail services during 24 hours of extreme weather.

A van driver died when a tree fell on top his vehicle in Co Antrim and a three-year-old child and an elderly woman were among three people hurt when a pallet was blown from a lorry in east Belfast.

Snow up to 5ft deep in parts of Scotland left some drivers stranded overnight on the A9 route to the Highlands and forced the cancellation of trains between Perth and Inverness.

Around 5,000 homes and businesses are without power in Northern Ireland and engineers are working to reconnect 2,100 properties in Dumfries and Galloway.

About 750 homes were cut off in Wales, where a tornado hit Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire yesterday.

Trees on the line held up rail commuters in Kent and in Birmingham high winds blew debris from a derelict pub onto the road, causing rush-hour diversions.

In Glasgow, a section of Bath Street in the city centre was closed after metal sheeting fell from the roof of a hotel and part of Potterrow in Edinburgh was cordoned off after cladding on the roof of a building came loose in the high winds.

A caravan was blown over on the A66 trans-Pennine route from County Durham to Cumbria, with Durham Police's roads unit tweeting a photo of the overturned vehicle and the comment: "this driver was travelling west but the caravan went east!"

The Met Office reported winds of 101mph in Great Dunsell, Cumbria - the highest across the UK yesterday - while other exposed areas also recorded speeds well in excess of 70mph.

Forecasters have issued a cold weather alert for much of England from 6pm on Thursday to noon on Monday, with icy conditions expected in the north in particular.

The Met Office said: "Increasingly cold air will spread from the northwest across England on Thursday night and during Friday, with showers turning more wintry from the north.

"Average temperatures are expected to continue falling through the weekend, with a northerly airstream likely to be established by Sunday. Frost and ice are expected to become increasingly widespread through the period, with some severe overnight frosts likely in the north over any snow cover by Monday."

In Scotland some drivers were left stranded on the A9 when the snow gates were closed from Blair Atholl to Ralia at around 9pm last night, with the traffic beginning to move again at around 10am today.

A spokesman for road operator Bear Scotland said: "Our team of eight winter vehicles, including three fast-track tractors, worked around the clock to clear the A9 and this morning helped to mobilise 20 HGVs that had difficulties due to the adverse weather overnight."

The Environment Agency currently has 25 flood warnings in place across England and Wales, with a further 12 issued north of the border.

Dr Angie Bone of the extreme events team at Public Health England warned the public to take precautions against the cold weather.

"Cold does kill, even in places where the temperatures aren't at their lowest," she said.

"Most of our advice on keeping warm in cold weather may seem like common sense, but it's important that we make the point that people should think about how cold can affect them.

"This is also a good time to think about how the bad weather may affect your friends and family, particularly if they are older or very young or have pre-existing health conditions. These groups can be particularly vulnerable to the ill-effects of cold so think now what you could do to help."

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