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Weather creates travel misery

Tue, 24 Dec 2013

BRITAIN’S bleak midwinter continued today with strong winds, floods and fallen trees causing chaos to travellers trying to get away for Christmas.

On the roads, many major routes were flooded or blocked by fallen trees, with Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Cornwall among the affected counties.

In Dorset fire crews had to rescue 25 people trapped in their cars by flood water, while as many as 100,000 homes across the country were left without power.

The Environment Agency issued hundreds of flood warnings across all of England and Wales, with a severe flood warning - the highest level, warning of danger to life - in south west England, where properties were expected to flood.

The M48 Severn crossing was closed, while many roads were affected by flooding or fallen trees, including sections of the M25, the M5 In Gloucestershire, the A20 in Sidcup in south east London, the A22 in West Sussex, and the A25 in Surrey.

Among sections of roads closed due to fallen trees were the A286 in Grayswood in Surrey, the A287 in Haslemere in Surrey and the A303 in Chicklade in Wiltshire, where power cables were also blocking the road.

In Northern Ireland, winds gusted up to 80mph on the north and east coasts, with police warning motorists of snow and black ice on some roads, especially south Tyrone and between Coleraine and Garvagh, Co Londonderry.

The Foyle Bridge in Derry city was closed to all high-sided vehicles, with a 30mph speed limit

The Environment Agency had 276 flood alerts and 162 more severe flood warnings in place, almost 120 of which were in south west and south east England.

The deep area of low pressure was expected to move away northwards during Christmas Day, with severe gales across the far north slowly easing.

But gales were likely to increase on Boxing Day, peaking during Friday.

By Press Association reporter