Flood alert as storms hit the UK

Parts of Britain were braced for flash flooding today as the latest severe bout of weather hit the country.

Up to 70mm (3ins) rain was expected to fall across south-east England, forecasters said, causing dangerous driving conditions.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for East and West Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and parts of Dorset.

After early snowfall, heavy rain and high winds struck other areas of the UK yesterday, there were also 14 flood warnings from the Environment Agency in force for Wales, the Midlands and the north east of England.

Snow fell across high ground from the north Midlands towards Scotland, with the Highlands worst hit.

Train and ferry services were also affected as storm force winds lashed the country.

Passengers on a ferry were stranded in rough conditions in the North Sea for nearly 18 hours after bad weather stopped the vessel from docking in Aberdeen.

More than 87 people were on the NorthLink Ferries vessel MV Hjaltland, which ended up being diverted to Rosyth in Fife last night. The boat was forced wait out at sea after being unable to dock in Aberdeen at 7am yesterday.

Yesterday saw the AA record a busy day for breakdowns, with more than 13,000 reported throughout the UK, 2,000 more than normal for this time of year.

Heavy rain and leaves on the road surface were responsible for the high number of breakdowns, with Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham and Leicester most affected.

The A93 Glenshee to Braemar road in Scotland's Grampian area was also closed due to drifting snow and high winds while motorists on the M74 near Beattock were advised to drive with caution due to snow in the area.

On the rail network, weather-related delays were reported between Durham and Newcastle and on the Southern Railways route.

The weather has been caused by a deep low pressure, which will moving east across the the British Isles towards northern France through the day.

Tom Tobler, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "It will still be quite a windy day, with a fair amount of cloud around across much of England and Wales.

"Northern parts of the UK should start to clear up as the low pressure moves on."

The Highways Agency said flooding had closed one lane of the eastbound A27 near Chichester in West Sussex.

Drivers between the A286 and the A259 junctions were being delayed.

By 6am, more than 2cm (1in) of rain had fallen at Shoreham Airport in the county, MeteoGroup said, with a similar amount being recorded in Farnham, Surrey.