Britain is battered by 80mph gales and flash floods

Another winter washout: Britain is battered by 80mph gales and flash floods as 1.5ins of rain falls in just a few hours

  • Winds of 70mph could hit South West and North of England, with 50mph gusts along south coast
  • Speeds of up to 30mph expected in South East with windy conditions forecast throughout today
  • Devon, Cornwall and Somerset face up to 1.5in (40mm) of rain but temperatures could hit 14C (57F)
  • Next week will bring a change with Met Office forecasting cold but drier weather for up to ten days
  • Forecast for next week adds rain may affect south coast ‘at times, bringing with it a risk of hill snow’
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Wet and windy weather is set to buffet Britain today – with severe gales across many areas and the risk of flooding.

Winds of 60mph to 70mph are expected in the South West, West and North of England and Wales, while 40mph to 50mph gusts are forecast along the south coast.

Even inland in the South East, where wind speeds are not quite due to reach gale force, speeds of up to 30mph are still expected in areas including London.

The windy conditions are expected throughout the day, accompanied by heavy rain at first, then blustery showers.

The strongest winds of up to 80mph are likely in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where a weather warning has been issued. Transport disruption to roads, rail services and flights is expected.

A turboprop plane touches down in strong winds at Leeds Bradford Airport in West Yorkshire this morning

Winds of 70mph could hit the South West and North of England, while 50mph gusts are forecast along the South Coast

A separate weather warning covers Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, where up to 1.5in (40mm) of rain is expected between the early hours of this morning and 9am.

Flooding of homes and businesses is possible due to the ground being already saturated. The rain warning states: ‘Coming on top of some recent very wet weather, this rain is likely to lead to some temporary flooding.’

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Met Office spokesman Richard Miles said: ‘The conditions are being caused by a deep area of low pressure passing to the north of Scotland. At this stage, it is not likely to be a named storm, however.’

Storms are named when they are expected to cause widespread levels of disruption. So far this season there have been storms named by British and Irish meteorologists – Ali and Bronagh in September, and Callum in October.

Temperatures today could reach 14C (57F) across the country, more than double the seasonal daytime average for early December of 6.6C (43.8F). 

Heavy rain is expected over much of England this morning (left), but eastern parts should enjoy a sunny afternoon (right)

The Met Office has issued a wind warning for Scotland today, warning the public to expect gusts of up to 80mph

Heavy rain is forecast in the South West and South Wales, which is under a warning – with 1.5in (40mm) possible in places

Once the depression clears, there are due to be blustery showers throughout the weekend. On Sunday, more gales of up to 40mph to 50mph are expected in South West England.

Mr Miles added: ‘From the start of next week, change is on the way. We expect to see a colder air mass make its way south, bringing more settled conditions.

‘Frost is expected on Monday night in some places, becoming more widespread on Tuesday night, and daytime temperatures will fall to around average, between 5C to 8C (41F to 46F).’

The colder weather will be mostly dry but with scattered showers in the west and the possibility of wintry showers in the east, which could drift inland from the North Sea.

Temperatures this weekend could get up to around 13C/55F in the South West tomorrow (left), and 11C/52F on Sunday (right)

The Met Office predicts the cold but drier weather could last for a week to ten days. Its forecast states: ‘The weather pattern becomes slow moving, with easterly winds developing and bringing showers to many parts, these possibly wintry away from coastal areas. Overnight frosts and patchy freezing fog are also likely at times.’

Rain may affect the south coast ‘at times, bringing with it a risk of hill snow’. Forecasters add: ‘Temperatures (are due to remain) generally rather cold or cold, perhaps milder at times in the west.’

But unsettled weather is due to return by Christmas, with the chance of ‘wet, windy and milder conditions’. Stockpiles of extra salt for road gritting have been made available if councils run short in the cold weather.

Yesterday, the Department for Transport (DfT) said its emergency salt stockpile for the winter stood at 271,906 tonnes, with a further 95,526 tonnes being held by Highways England.

The DfT said this salt ‘is the salt of last resort’ and local councils are obliged to retain their own salt stockpiles. But in an emergency, the department will sell it to councils at the price of £65 a tonne.

Storm preparation: How to deal with gale force winds

Preparation begins at home

You should prepare your home first – secure the doors and windows, fix any broken roof tiles, and lock away the garden furniture – but it goes without saying the during high winds the safest place to be is indoors.

Do look for indoor shelter

If you have to go out – or are unfortunate enough to get caught in it – you should try and find shelter as quickly as possible. You want somewhere genuinely inside: Public buildings are perfect, or you could head for the respite of a restaurant or cafe.

Allow extra time for a journey

Also be aware that some roads and bridges may be closed. Some are often closed to high-sided vehicles, and drivers should take note that even large people carriers can be unsettled by particularly red-blooded gusts.

Set your sat nav to alert you to any jams, drive slowly and look out for cyclists or pedestrians. Before you set off, make sure the car is topped up with windscreen washer, and that you have supplies such as a blanket in case you’re stranded.

Plan for a power cut

And make sure that, just in case, you are prepared for a day or so without electricity: Fit torches with working batteries, find the candles, and make sure you have the food and drink you and your family or housemates need. High winds can down power lines, which should not be approached under any circumstances.

Don’t walk near busy roads

While out and about, your main task is to avoid objects or situations that might become hazardous. Pedestrians should avoid active highways like main roads, as particularly vehement winds can easily push a person into oncoming traffic.

Take extra care if you’re by the coast

Beach weather this is not, and you should be especially vigilant around the coast. As well as the risk of flying debris, structures with loose or precarious items should also be approached with care: Scaffolds and balconies offer slivers of shelter, but not nearly enough to risk a falling plank or plant pot.

Don’t try and fix damage straightaway

Do not attempt to fix any wind-related damage while the storm is still going on. There’s no point risking yourself as well as your garden fence, and it might just blow down again anyway. Hang on until the storm has passed.

Avoid trees

Finally, do not make the error of seeking shelter beneath a tree. If your windstorm is accompanied by lightning this can go very badly indeed. Plus, gale force winds alone can dislodge branches large enough to knock down any human, and sometimes topple the whole tree.

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