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Old 23-12-13, 22:08   #1
 
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Arrow Right PhOtOs-Hurricane Winds/Storm Cause Chaos in UK

The road to nowhere: Millions face Christmas getaway chaos as bridges and routes are closed and trains and flights are under threat as Britain is hit by hurricane-force winds and torrential rain





Railway stations, airports and roads are filling up as millions of travellers were urged to bring forward their journeys so they can get home before the bad weather sets in across the majority of the UK. Train stations including Euston (main) in London are filled with frustrated passengers waiting for trains that were severely delayed or were forced to change their journeys because of cancelled services. Traffic is building up, with cars at a standstill on motorways and main roads across the country. People hoping to get away from London were stuck on the approach to the Dartford Tunnel following the closure of the QEII Bridge this morning (bottom right). Northern parts of England and Scotland were also covered in a blanket of snow, with motorists struggling with the wintry conditions. At Heathrow, heavy rain on the runway meant planes were struggling to take off (bottom right), while gale-force winds, which have reached 100mph in some areas, caused a landslide in Bournemouth, Dorset, crushing a set of huts on the beach.

  • Three deaths - a man in Ambleside, Cumbria, woman in Gwynedd, Wales, and woman in Berwick, Northumberland
  • Environment Agency issues severe flood warning in South West as well as 57 flood warnings and 218 flood alerts
  • Met Office issues severe weather warning running into Christmas Eve because of 90mph winds and flooding
  • Rail passengers urged to take any train as companies cancel hundreds of services and impose 50mph 'go slow'
  • Traffic on major routes at standstill as major roads and bridges are shut because of flooding and high winds
  • Airline and ferry passengers asked to contact carrier before travelling to airport or port because of disruption
  • Giant 'snow globe' erected around Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus has deflated, showering area with fake snow
By Daily Mail UK, 23 December 2013


Millions of people were tonight struggling to get home in time for Christmas after a huge storm shut roads, railway lines, ports and airports across Britain.
The country's transport network was failing to cope with hurricane-force winds and torrential rain on one of the busiest travelling days of the year.
A man and a woman died in river incidents in Cumbria and North Wales, while an elderly motorist died in a car crash in Northumberland.
Met Office forecasters have issued a severe weather warning running into Christmas Eve because of 90mph winds and flooding caused by torrential rain.
The Environment Agency issued a severe flood warning in the South West due to ‘extremely dangerous’ conditions, which warns there is ‘danger to life’.

There are 57 flood warnings and a whopping 218 flood alerts in place across the country, with the majority in the South, Midlands and Wales.




Miserable conditions: A queue of cars snakes around the M25 at Junction 16 in Buckinghamshire this evening as many try desperately to get home for Christmas




Left waiting: Passengers wait and watch the boards at London Euston this evening, where people were forced to queue out of the station in the attempt to get on a train out of London




Stuck: Scotland is suffering particularly poor weather, with storms set to continue there until Chrstmas Day. This lorry got in the snow on the A9 south of Dalwhinnie



Delays: There were huge delays on the M25 tonight - pictured between Junctions 2 and 3 in Kent - following the closure of the Dartford Bridge




White Christmas: Security staff protecting the Eros statue snow globe in Piccadilly Circus, Central London today, after it was damaged by high winds and heavy rain



No room at the inn: Firefighters examine the scene after the roof was blown off the Kingsway Hotel in Worthing, West Sussex




Dangerous conditions: A green Tuffnells lorry is pictured after being blown over in Purbeck Ridge, Dorset



Making it up: A plane takes off at Heathrow Airport in South-West London as wind and rain hits Britain


CHRISTMAS WEATHER FORECAST

Tonight: It will be a very wet and windy night across the UK with heavy rain tracking eastwards and clearing to drier interludes and squally showers from the north and west. The showers may be thundery with hail and sleet possible in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It will be especially stormy over East Anglia and southern England, where widespread gale force winds are forecast.
Christmas Eve: Heavy rain and gale force winds will gradually ease away to the south-east to leave a bright but still rather windy day with a mixture of sunshine and blustery showers. The strongest winds and most frequent showers are expected to be in Scotland where they are likely to fall as hail, sleet or even snow. A cold day.
Christmas Day: It will be notably less windy with many areas remaining dry but chilly with some sunshine. However, a few showers are forecast to affect south-western parts of England and Wales along with western Scotland, where they may be wintry.

Parts of the South East and South West continue to be the worst affected, with these areas accounting for 55 per cent of flood warnings.
An Environment Agency spokesman said flood warnings would continue to rise as rainfall flows into rivers, swelling them to near bursting point.
The storm - due to last until at least tomorrow - has left many people stranded and others told not to travel until tomorrow afternoon unless it is essential.
The gusts and heavy rain were set to intensify overnight, causing further damage and disruption for much of Britain just hours before Christmas Day.

In the travel chaos:
  • Rail passengers have been urged to take any train they can as companies cancel hundreds of services and impose 50mph 'go slow'
  • Traffic on major routes at standstill as major roads and bridges are shut because of flooding and dangerously high winds
  • Airline and ferry passengers asked to contact carrier before travelling to airport or port because of disruption



Rough ride: This Easyjet plane struggles to land on its wheels at Luton today, an experience shared by many flights into Britain today



Soaking: Fans pose for photographs ahead of the Barclays Premier League football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium




Staying in: A woman looks out of a window of a building overlooking the beach in Sidmouth, Devon, after the Met Office has issued a number of severe weather warnings




Still shopping: A pedestrian struggles to hold on to his umbrella along Oxford Street in Central London in stormy weather with high winds and torrential rain



Bracing day: Storms battering the seafront at Brighton in East Sussex, as much of the country comes under attack from heavy rain and strong winds




Closed: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, Central London. The venue was shut for the day after extreme weather hit the south of Britain



Going for a stroll: People brave the stormy weather and walk besides the beach in Sidmouth, Devon, despite the hurricane-force winds being experienced in the UK




Fury: Train passengers and motorists took to Twitter to tell of their delayed journeys thanks to the severe weather conditions across Britain

A man's body was pulled from the River Rothay in Ambleside, Cumbria, with local police saying that the weather hampered their rescue efforts.


TRAVEL: WHERE IS DISRUPTION BEING REPORTED ACROSS BRITAIN?


AIRPORTS
  • Aberdeen
  • Belfast
  • Bristol
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Guernsey
  • Jersey
  • London City
  • London Gatwick
  • London Heathrow
  • Southampton
TRAINS
  • Arriva Trains Wales
  • c2c
  • Chiltern Railways
  • CrossCountry
  • East Coast
  • East Midlands Trains
  • First Capital Connect
  • First Great Western
  • First Hull Trains
  • First TransPennine Express
  • Grand Central
  • Greater Anglia/Stansted Express
  • Heathrow Connect
  • Heathrow Express
  • London Midland
  • Northern Rail
  • South West Trains
  • Southeastern
  • Southern/Gatwick Express
  • Virgin Trains
ROADS
  • M25 Essex & Kent
  • M54 Staffordshire
  • M1 Northamptonshire
  • M5 Somerset
  • M6 Staffordshire
  • M42 West Midlands
  • M48 Severn Bridge Monmouthshire
  • M60 Greater Manchester
  • M62 Greater Manchester

North Wales Police said they were alerted to reports of a woman in a river at Nant Ffrancon, Bethesda, Gwynedd, just before 4pm today.
Police officers, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and a Mountain Rescue Team attended, but the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue team spokesman Paul Smith told BBC Wales about the incident in Bethesda: ‘It seems the woman had gone out to check the water supply to her house.
‘A little while later her partner noticed she had gone and raised the alarm.
‘The place she was found is just 50m (165ft) from her house. It's a small stream that runs off the mountain - about half a metre wide and three quarters of a metre deep - but it was in full flow.’

And an 81-year-old woman died in a car crash at around 12pm on the A1 near the Berwick bypass in Northumberland.
The crash between a Nissan Note and a lorry saw the woman pronounced dead on the way to hospital. The lorry driver, a 55-year-old man, suffered no injuries.
The Environment Agency severe flood warning is at the Sea Life Centre and the Preston Beach Road area of Lodmoor, Weymouth.
The Department for Transport said the unsettled weather will continue this week, and Network Rail admitted today and tomorrow will be a challenge.
Managing director Robin Gisby said: ‘Our fundamental concern over the next 48 hours is to get everyone where they want to be for Christmas.
‘It won't be an easy task given the forecast conditions and disruption is likely - but I want to be very clear that our priority is running as many trains as we can safely, rather than worrying about hitting the timetable bang on,’ he said.
He said hundreds of engineers and other staff will be across the network over the next two days, ready to react quickly to any problems, removing debris and fixing equipment where necessary.
Airports are advising passengers to check with their airlines before travelling and to leave additional time for their journey to the airport.
The bad weather has resulted in thousands of homes being left without power in Cornwall.
A spokesman for Western Power Distribution said high winds brought down overhead power lines.
She said the number of homes and businesses without power in Cornwall stood at 3,000, with a further 2,000 across the South West.
UK Power Networks said it is monitoring the weather closely, and has ‘robust emergency plans in place to cope with severe weather’, adding that it has brought in additional staff covering engineering, technical and call centre roles.
The Tamar Bridge in Plymouth, between Devon and Cornwall, was closed to high-sided vehicles, motorbikes and caravans due to ‘high gusting winds’.
The QEII Bridge at Dartford was closed at lunchtime as winds were expected to exceed 60mph, the Highways Agency said.
The closure is expected to remain in place until approximately 4am tomorrow when it is predicted that the high winds will ease.
The Sheppey Crossing in Kent was also closed due to high winds, a spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said.
It will remain in place until the high winds subside, which is expected to be early tomorrow morning.
A Met Office spokesman said a new wind speed high had been recorded at Capel Curig in Conwy, North Wales, with gusts blowing at 87mph.
Not far behind was Berry Head in Torbay, Devon, with gusts of 76mph.
A Met Office spokesman said: ‘The strongest winds will move across the country.’
Forecaster Emma Compton warned that south west-facing places will see the worst of the rain, adding that it is ‘already falling on quite saturated ground’, with the risk of flooding.
‘There will be snow for a short time in Scotland but it will turn back to rain,’ she said.
Ms Compton said 0.8in to 1.2in of rain is expected in some places, but southern-facing slopes could get more. ‘Places like Dartmoor in Devon could see 2.4in.’




Gridlock: As Britain headed towards the evening rush hour, main roads including the M25 near Dartford (pictured), were choked with traffic as torrential rain and strong winds shut roads and bridges



Getting through: Flooding on roads in Shepton Mallet in Somerset is making driving conditions extremely hazardous for motorists




Collapse: A fallen tree lies across the road on a street in Brompton, South-West London, after strong winds and rain lashed the country today




Blocked: High winds and heavy rain have caused a tree to fall onto Golders Green High Street in North London, causing disruption in bus and coach services




Ruff weather: A small dog wearing a Christmas jumper is blown around in Sidmouth, Devon






Danger: Environment Agency flood alerts for the Midlands (top) and South (above). There were 181 in total for England and Wales, with 33 warnings




Travel chaos: A train is battered by waves as the sea crashes over the sea wall and on to the railway line as it passes through Dawlish station in Devon

In terms of wind, the worst place will be the south coast and any higher ground, which could see ‘severe gales’ at 70mph to 80mph, Ms Compton warned.
‘But more places inland could see wind speeds up to 60mph, so that's going to be strong throughout the course of the day and ease this evening.’
Ms Compton warned that the wind will pick up again during the night and Kent faces particularly strong gales.
Michael Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group which speaks on behalf of the rail industry, apologised to passengers whose journeys are affected by the weather.
He said rail staff are ‘doing everything they can’, adding: ‘Where services are affected, operators are advising passengers to consider changing their travel plans and have already lifted ticket restrictions to help them do so.
‘Passengers have been advised to travel earlier to take advantage of the greater flexibility being offered by some operators and anyone still looking to travel should check the National Rail Enquiries website for the latest information.’



Patiently waiting: Train passengers stand at Euston station in London after they were urged to bring forward their journeys before storm conditions potentially decimates rail services in the next 24 hours




Shut down: The Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford, one of the busiest spots on the M25 around London, was shut down at Midday today because of high winds




Rough seas: The Isle of Wight Ferry, struggles across the water at Portsmouth as gusts hit up to 90mph today





Poor conditions: Aircraft were struggling to stay level on take-off today as Heathrow suffered appalling wind and rain today




Struggle: Despite the difficult take-off, airlines have pledged to run as normal as possible service over the coming 24 hours



Rest: A girl takes a seat as she prepares herself for long delays at London Kings Cross






Rush: Passengers rush to get a seat on trains at London Kings Cross as trains across the country are cancelled




Waiting: Passengers at Birmingham New Street Station await updates on their disrupted journeys





Chaos: A woman waiting for her family at Birmingham New Street waits for updates as numerous journeys are cancelled or disrupted




Frustrated: A man holding a gift waits as train services from London Euston suffer sever delays


CHRISTMAS STORM CLAIMS LIFE

A man died after he fell into a swollen river while trying to rescue a dog, becoming the first victim of the storm.

Police recovered the body of the unidentified victim from the River Rothay in Cumbria near Lake Windermere after a major search operation was launched this afternoon.

Fire crews, the coast guard, paramedics and members of the mountain rescue team were sent to the scene after the man was spotted in the water by a member of the public

Inspector Chris Wright from Cumbria Police said the rivers in the area were 'suffering an excess of water' as a result of the heavy rain which has hit Britain over the last 24 hours.

'It would be fair to say that the river in its current state did not assist the rescue operation' he added.

The AA's specialist severe weather team has been deployed across southern counties.
Darron Burness, head of the AA's flood rescue team, said: ‘We are working with the Environment Agency and the emergency services to provide support in the South West and elsewhere in southern counties.
‘However, the situation is fast developing and we will change our plans to ensure we offer support where it is most needed. We expect the worst of the winds tomorrow to be in Northern Ireland, south and central Scotland and northern England.’
The Environment Agency has warned communities across the South East to be vigilant and prepare for possible flooding.
It is asking people to take steps to protect their homes from flooding and not to drive through dangerous flood water.
Simon Beavan, regional flood and coastal risk manager, said: ‘With more unsettled weather forecast for the South East, following recent heavy rainfall, there could be a lot of water in low-lying lands and on roads.
‘Those who live in an area vulnerable to flooding should think about the precautions they can take to limit the damage a flood can cause to themselves and their property. Be prepared: check the Environment Agency website for the latest situation and advice.’
Train operators have been warning of widespread delays, disruptions and cancellations, and have made contingency plans with bus firms.
Network Rail said speed restrictions are likely on some routes and many train companies are advising passengers with tickets for today to travel earlier than their booked time, or to wait until tomorrow.



Storm damage: The bad weather hot Cornwall first, where highways workers braved the appalling conditions to clear the roads of fallen trees




The getaway: Traffic builds up on the Edinburgh City Bypass as people struggle to make their way home for Christmas



Care needed: Officials today urged people to stay away from the water as crashing waves battered the coast, including here at Southsea in Hampshire




Carnage: Six beach huts have been crushed in a cliff landslide after heavy rain and strong winds hit Bournemouth beach in Dorset




Damage: Properties all over the UK have been damaged, including this home in Newquay where its garage collapsed
Storm force winds BATTER Plymouth as severe weather warning...








Bleak picture: The Met Office's has warned that there will be floods, trees down and huge travel disruption as Britain struggles to cope with a severe Christmas storm over the coming two days




Precautions: Gritting lorries cover the south of the A9 in Dalwhinnie in the Cairngorms, Scotland, as heavy snow falls on the busy trunk road



Snow scene: The roofs of the houses in Nentwhich, Cumbria, are covered by a thick layer of snow which fell over the Pennines



Accident: A car skids and flips onto its roof near Ballater, North east Scotland, as the conditions begin to take their toll



Veered: A gritting lorry slides off the road in the Scottish Borders as snow continues to fall




Huge waves: The choppy sea batters the harbour at Lyme Regis in Dorset where the fishing fleet remains at anchor

The Environment Agency urged people to check its flood forecasts and warned people to keep away from coastal promenades because of wet and windy conditions.

The worst of the weather is expected to be clear by the end of Christmas Eve, the Met Office said.




Taking its toll: The strong winds cause a tree trunk to fall and crush a van on Cannings Road in East Croydon, London

Andy Page, Met Office chief forecaster, said: ‘A rapidly deepening area of low pressure is developing to the west of Ireland and is forecast to pass just to the north-west of the UK overnight and on Tuesday.
‘This will bring stormy conditions to the UK with the strongest winds likely along coastlines exposed to the south on Monday night and for Northern Ireland, the north and north-west of Scotland on Tuesday.
‘This brings the potential for possible disruption to transport because of the strong winds and also localised flooding in some areas.
‘The public are advised to stay up to date with the latest Met Office forecasts and National Severe Weather Warnings and find out what to do in severe weather so they can plan ahead and be prepared for the weather in store and make the most of the festive season.’
In London, Royal Parks closed Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Richmond Park, Bushy Park, St James's Park and Green Park early due to ‘the current severe weather conditions’.
As high winds are expected this evening and overnight Royal Parks might need to keep some parks closed tomorrow morning subject to an onsite assessment.
It was announced at 9pm that the Port of Dover had closed.
A spokesman said: ‘Due to adverse weather conditions, with winds currently over 50 knots, the Port of Dover is currently closed. The primary concern of the port and ferry operators is the safety of customers and staff.
‘Passengers are advised to check with their ferry operator before travelling and consult our website or Twitter account for the latest information.
‘We will continue monitoring the situation closely in liaison with the ferry operators in order to re-open the port as soon as possible once it is safe to do so. Please note that there may be delays to services when the port re-opens.’
Meanwhile, the giant ‘snow globe’ erected around a sculpture in Piccadilly Circus has deflated as high winds and heavy rain continues to batter the capital.
The Christmas decoration, built around the statue of Eros, the Greek god of love, had large fans that blew imitation snowflakes around the globe.
An onlooker explained that winds blew the 100ft globe onto Eros's bow, tearing a hole in the structure and showering the central London square in fake snow.
Jac Timms, 33, said: ‘There was quite a storm blowing when we arrived at Piccadilly Circus and took a few snaps of the statue.
‘We were in a restaurant at the bottom of Shaftesbury Avenue when I saw out of the corner of my eye that it started to flap around a bit, where before it had been rigid.


CANCELLATIONS, DELAYS AND DISRUPTION: TRANSPORT UPDATE FOR BRITAIN'S MONDAY COMMUTE


TRAINS
As the weather front continues to move across the country, travellers are experiencing huge delays and a number of cancellations, with the rail networks affected the most.

A train on the line at Knebworth is causing delays of up to an hour on trains going in and out of London Kings Cross.
Emergency speed restrictions of 50mph have been imposed by National Rail until 07:00am tomorrow morning, meaning journey times will be significantly longer.

Many train companies are also offering customers the chance to use pre-booked tickets to travel on earlier trains in order to avoid the disruption and are being told to travel this afternoon only if absolutely necessary.
  • Warnings: Passengers at Stevenage Train Station are advised to travel 'only if unavoidable'


    Arriva Trains Wales: Trains disrupted because of flooding. Delays of up to ten minutes expected.
  • c2c: Delayed services from London Fenchurch Street because of electrical supply problems
  • Chiltern: Normal service on most routes .
  • CrossCountry: rains to Basingstoke, Winchester and Bournemouth delayed by up to an hour.
  • East Coast: Services cancelled between London Kings Cross and Leeds, Newark and Newcastle. Ticket restrictions for today and tomorrow have been lifted.Speed restrictions means journey times will be significantly longer.
  • East Midlands Trains: Running a significantly reduced service between London St Pancras and Peterborough, Sheffield and Liverpool. There will only be two trains every hour after 6pm.
  • First Capital Connect: Tree on the line at Knebworth causing delays of up to an hour between Kings Cross and Stevenage. Some services into London Kings Cross cancelled.
  • First Great Western: Running with delays to all locations of up to an hour.
  • First Hull: Tree on the line at Knebworth causing delays of up to an hour between Kings Cross and Stevenage. Ticket restrictions have been lifted, but passengers have been advised to avoid travelling this afternoon.
  • First TransPennine Express: Customers with tickets for December 23 and 24 can travel any time between now and Christmas Eve.
  • Gatwick Express: Some trains cancelled or delayed because of 50mph speed limit.
  • Grand Central: Running with delays. Customers can also travel on East Coast and First Capital Connect Services to complete their journeys.
  • Greater Anglia and Stansted Express: More than 50 trains cancelled this evening. Trains will not run until 10am on Christmas Eve.
  • Heathrow Connect: Running with a severely reduced service
  • London Midland: Running with delays of up to 30 minutes.


  • Bleak: Trains are cancelled at Kings Cross in London as operators prepare for the bad weather


    London Overground: Services between Highbury and Islington and Clapham Junction suspended because of planned engineering works.
  • Merseyrail: Normal service
  • Northern Rail:Trains between Cleethorpes and Barton on Humber have been suspended.
  • Scotrail: Normal service
  • South West Trains: Severe delays in and out of London Waterloo between locations such as Exeter St David, Portsmouth and Weymouth
  • Southeastern:50mph speed resriction will be in place meaning some services have been cancelled and others severely delayed. No trains will run before 07:00 tomorrow morning
  • Southern: Reduced timetable because of 50mph speed restrictions this afternoon. Trees on the line affecting services to Bognor Regis.
  • Virgin Trains: Speed restrictions in place with delays of up to 20 minutes.

ROADS
  • The AA has warned that road disruption is likely, on the second busiest travelling day of the year, and advised drivers to avoid any flood water.
  • M25: Queen Elizabeth II bridge (Dartford Crossing from Essex to Kent) closed from Midday because of the weather.
  • M48: Closed to high-sided vehicles.
  • Various other bridges, including route to the Isle of Sheppey, shut because of winds
AIRPORTS
  • Disruptions are expected to be limited, but travellers are advised to check departure and arrival boards and leave extra time for the journey to the airport.
  • Southampton Airport was closed this afternoon because of high winds
FERRIES

P&O Dover-Calais ferries are expected to be delayed by at least 30mins with a small number of services cancelled. Condor Ferries, Brittany Ferries and LD Lines and Isle of Man services all disrupted by bad weather.






‘It flapped around more and more - moving from side to side - until it got caught on Eros' bow and tore a big hole in it. The snow blew out of the globe all over Piccadilly Circus, people were covered.
The area was later cordoned off by police, but there were concerns that the 130-year-old statue was damaged by the incident.
Mr Timms added: ‘The top of the plastic dome was caught over Eros and it was acting as a sail.
‘It was starting to pull the statue from side to side, and it has quite a thin base so it looked like it could have been pulled down.’
Wightlink Ferries are still taking passengers to and from the Isle of Wight during one of the worst storms to hit the south coast of England this year, the company said.
Three car ferries are operating between Portsmouth and Fishbourne - the fourth, the St Clare, has been moored nearby in the Portsmouth International Ferry Port.
The other ferries - the St Faith, St Cecilia and St Helen - are continuing to sail between Portsmouth Gunwharf and Fishbourne on a shuttle service.
A spokesman said: ‘Priority is being given to booked customers. Passengers who want to change their booking to tomorrow (Christmas Eve) can do so free of charge.’
Sean Millward, head of port operations, said: ‘We know many customers want to travel to and from the Isle of Wight for Christmas and we will do our best to take them there.
‘However, as safety is always our first priority, we will not sail if it is not safe to do so. Customers should check our website for the latest news on services during the storm.’
People wanting information about Wightlink sailings were asked to visit the firm’s website or call the Wightlink reservations team.

Brittany Ferries said a passenger on the Portsmouth to Bilbao crossing had to be airlifted off the ship after sustaining neck injuries from a fall during rough weather.



Delays: A man gets into the festive spirit in a Santa hat despite the bleak information on the departure boards




Shut: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London has closed today due to bad weather conditions



Uprooted: A tree felled by the strong winds blocks a road in Castle-An-Dinas near St Columb Major in Cornwall



Gusts: Market Street in Hatherleigh, Devon. was closed after debris from the roof fell onto the street




Family: A dog owner looks after his two pets as he waits to board a train home for Christmas




Blocked off: A car is forced to turn around after snow drifts cause the A93 in north east Scotland to close




Wintry scene: The village of Braemar in Scotland lies under a layer of snow


CHRISTMAS WEATHER FORECAST


Monday: A stormy day with cloud and heavy rain sweeping in from the south-west. The rain will spread to most areas by the afternoon and only slowly clear from north-western parts to leave squally showers by the evening. Gales or severe gales
Monday night: Apart from the South-East, rain will clear from much of the country to scattered showers and clear spells. The showers will be frequent and wintry in Scotland. Becoming stormy in Scotland with severe gales
Christmas Eve: Stormy in Scotland. Rain in the South-East will clear to leave sunny spells and wintry showers across the UK, mainly in the West.
Christmas Day: The strong winds will gradually ease and it will be a bright day with sunny spells and showers most frequent in the West along the coast


An East Coast spokesman said: ’As a result of the high winds and heavy rainfall, and the restrictions in place, it is regretted that many East Coast services will be subject to delay and cancellation over the next two days.’
Customers were urged to travel early today or ‘later than planned’ on Christmas Eve.
A spokesman said: 'East Coast sincerely apologises to customers for the inconvenience this will cause, especially as it is very conscious many people will be travelling just before Christmas on Monday and Tuesday.'
Virgin Trains meanwhile is to slash services by up to two thirds between London Euston, Manchester and Birmingham.
The normal service of the trains will reduce to two an hour from 3pm and then just one an hour from 6pm.
All other routes - including to and from Glasgow - will continue at one per hour as long as conditions allow, as part of their contingency to keep all destinations served with at least a skeleton service.
‘Clearly this is not good news on this of all days,’ said a Virgin spokesman.
He added that all peak travel restrictions are lifted until close of service on Christmas Eve, but stressed this could be many hours earlier than normal as services wind down for the break.
Virgin said ‘delays and disruption’ were expected from mid-afternoon today with fewer services running because of cancellations.’
The spokesman said: ‘Network Rail expects to apply a 50mph speed limit between London Euston and Birmingham New Street and between Rugby and Nuneaton from the afternoon of Monday, meaning we will not be able to run a full service.’
It noted: ‘We will plan to run services on all our routes, but with fewer trains than normal between London and Manchester and London and Birmingham.’
A First Capital Connect spokesman said: ‘Due to the severe weather expected from Monday until Tuesday, Network Rail are going to implement speed restrictions on all our routes and we will be running a reduced timetable on both days.
‘We are advising customers to try and get home early on Monday and wherever possible not to travel on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Services are likely to remain disrupted until the close of service on Christmas Eve.’
East Midlands Trains have planned alterations to some services to take the weather into account.
A travel notice said: ‘At present, it is not known the exact level of service which will be provided, but it is anticipated that approximately two trains per hour will run between Sheffield/Derby/Nottingham and all other stations to/from London St Pancras International from 12:00.'
The Cumbria Coast railway line that runs between Carlisle and Barrow was closed at Harrington, Workington, due to a landslide.



Blanket of snow: A family of deer enjoy the wintry conditions in the Cairngorms, Scotland


The Environment Agency said people are urged to stay away from promenades along the south coast today and on Tuesday because of the wet and windy conditions.


TRAIN LINES EXPECTING DISRUPTION TODAY

  • Arriva Trains Wales
  • c2c
  • Chiltern Railways
  • CrossCountry
  • Cumbria Coast
  • East Coast
  • East Midlands Trains
  • First Capital Connect
  • First Great Western
  • First Hull Trains
  • First TransPennine Express
  • Gatwick Express
  • Grand Central
  • Greater Anglia
  • Heathrow Connect
  • Heathrow Express
  • Island Line
  • London Midland
  • Merseyrail
  • Northern Rail
  • ScotRail
  • South West Trains
  • Southeastern
  • Southern
  • Stansted Express
  • Virgin Trains


The storm is due to hit the south-west of England first and flood alerts are already in place for a number of coastal areas and river valleys in Cornwall, including the Lower, Middle and Upper River Tamar, the Lyhner and the Tavy at Tavistock.
David Jordan, Environment Agency director of operations, said: ‘Unsettled weather is set to continue throughout the Christmas period, with heavy rain and wind affecting many parts of England, so people should check the flood forecast on the Environment Agency website to help plan - and sign up to flood warnings.’
Darron Burness, head of the AA's flood rescue team, said: ‘Three-quarters of cars that get stuck are written off as it only takes a tiny amount of ingested water to wreck the engine.
‘You're also putting yourself at risk as flood water can mask all manner of hazards, for example open manholes, and just one foot or 30 centimetres of moving water can float your car.
‘Moving flood water, particularly, is powerful, relentless and deceptively dangerous, so just stay out.’
Mike Cooper, of Richfords Fire and Flood company in Redruth, Cornwall, urged families in 'at risk' areas to store iPods, tablets and other expensive Christmas presents upstairs.
'You've got new and valuable items in your home. Often you have family down for Christmas, so they bring presents down as well. All of a sudden you have tens of thousands of pounds of presents below the tree.
'I would advise keeping presents out of harm's way, upstairs for example until Christmas day, taking them down just before so that people can enjoy Christmas without the real tragedy of flood waters washing presents around the living room - which is sadly something that we see.'
The Government’s Highways Agency issued an amber alert warning drivers in the East, South East and South West that heavy rain and high winds would cause ‘significant disruption’ including bridge closures and speed restrictions on motorways and major roads.
The following trains companies are also warning of potential disruption to services because of the weather today: Arriva Trains Wales; c2c; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; First Great Western; First Hull Trains; First TransPennine Express; Gatwick Express; Grand Central; Greater Anglia; Heathrow Connect; Heathrow Express; Island Line; London Midland; Merseyrail; Northern Rail; ScotRail; South West Trains; Southeastern; Southern and Stansted Express.
Rail bosses say the 'knock-on effect’ will run well into Christmas Eve. Some 20,000 were scheduled to run before services wind down for Christmas.
And with new research by NCP car parks finding that a third - 33 per cent - of all those planning to head overseas this Christmas will leave between December 21 and 23, holidaymakers are being urged to check their travel routes and leave more time for their journeys.
Heathrow Airport has urged customers to check the status of their flights today with their airlines. A spokesman said: ‘We don't currently have any weather-related cancellations for Monday.’




Susan Libeks leads her horse Andante to shelter as a heavy snow storm hits Kincraig, Inverness-shire, Scotland




Heavy snow caused a two mile traffic tailback on the A9 in Dalwhinnie in the Scottish highlands



Train delays: Many networks have made contingency plans, with Virgin Trains slashing services by up to two-thirds. London King's Cross is pictured on Friday


And British Airways said: ’We plan to operate a normal schedule on Monday. Customers are advised to check BA.com for the latest flight information’.


WINTER WONDERLAND CLOSED

The Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, central London, was closed today due to the weather.

A spokesman said: ‘Due to the severe weather conditions of high winds and extreme rain predicted for London tomorrow (Monday), PWR Events and The Royal Parks have taken the decision to close Hyde Park Winter Wonderland on Monday for the day.
‘All ticket holders for the Lycamobile Ice Rink, Zippos Circus, Magical Ice Kingdom and the Giant Observation Wheel will be refunded for Monday.
‘We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused, but Hyde Park Winter Wonderland will be open as usual again on Tuesday at 10am.'


Meanwhile engineers have restored power to 1,300 homes which were without electricity for several hours on the Isle of Wight after strong winds damaged overhead lines.
Southern Electric said the blackout affected Newport, Ventnor and Sandown.
More than 800 homes were also left without power in the Lizard and Callington area of Cornwall.

Police in Cumbria have urged people to be prepared over the next few days with continued road disruptions and localised flooding.
A spokesman said: 'Yesterday (Saturday), the county's roads were affected by standing water which resulted in some roads being heavily affected or closed as well as some areas being flooded.
'The Met Office has advised that more heavy rain is due to hit Cumbria again on Monday and high winds on Tuesday, therefore police want to take this opportunity advise people to take care and be prepared.'
Meanwhile, bookmaker William Hill reported a further run of money for a White Christmas - particularly across Scotland where it is now 2/1 that at least one snowflake falls in Aberdeen, Glasgow or Edinburgh.
It is looking less likely in London but the price has still halved from 10/1 to 5/1 in the last week.
'It only takes one flake to be reported for the payout and there can be little doubt that the rain is around - the only question is will temperatures fall fast enough,' said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.
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