Schools, roads and hospitals closed as winds and rain batter northern Britain

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The Independent Online

High winds and torrential rain swept across much of Britain yesterday, with Scotland and northern England the worst hit. The storms flooded homes and closed schools, roads, railways and hospitals, amid warnings from weather experts of worse to come today.

High winds and torrential rain swept across much of Britain yesterday, with Scotland and northern England the worst hit. The storms flooded homes and closed schools, roads, railways and hospitals, amid warnings from weather experts of worse to come today.

The Borders region was badly hit, with the fire service having to deal with more than 60 emergencies in the early morning. The main route to England on the east coast, the A1, was closed at Haddington. Rail services were disrupted, with parts of the east and west coast main lines closed because of flooding at Berwick in the east and at the village of Ecclefechan in the west.

Throughout the country train services were widely disrupted but passengers looking for alternative transport on the roads faced even greater problems as landslides and flooding caused difficulties.

In Edinburgh, the city by-pass was closed and river levels were being closely monitored. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency imposed up to 21 severe flood warnings across the country after two inches of rain fell in some places overnight.

There were further problems for residents near the Eye Water, which runs from East Lothian to Eyemouth, the Gala Water at Selkirk, and Jed Water in the Borders. They were advised yesterday to take precautions to protect themselves from flooding because of the unusually high tide expected in the afternoon.

The agency also issued flood warnings for 14 areas, including the Water of Leith, which runs through Edinburgh, the River Esk, the River Tyne at Haddington and the River Earn in Perthshire.

South of the border, the Environment Agency issued seven flood warnings for the North-east, including three flood warnings for the Coquet river, one for the North Tyne river, two for the Ouse river and one for the Tyne river.

In Aberdeen where there were concerns for the rivers Don and Dee, the city's harbour was closed, forcing Northlink to consider diverting its Orkney and Shetland ferry services to Rosyth.

Parts of Aberdeenshire that were hit by snow earlier this week are on flood alert after nearly two inches of rain fell in 24 hours, with a further two inches predicted for later today.

As much of the south of the country and central belt began to dry out last night, the north-east of Scotland was bracing itself for 80mph winds due to hit the area today. "A severe weather warning has been issued for the next 36 hours," a Met Office spokesman said.

In Northern Ireland, some of the worst flooding was in County Down, south of Belfast, where a combination of water flowing off the Mourne Mountains and a high tide along the coast was causing flooding. Sections of the road between Annalong and Newcastle were affected by mudslides, while the Omeath road in Newry, which crosses the border with the Irish Republic, was closed.

In the port of Larne, north of Belfast, the County Antrim coast road was also affected by a landslide at the Black Arch, between Branch Road and Newington Avenue. Flooding closed Troopers Lane in Carrickfergus, and also hit the Hightown Road and Corrs Corner areas of Glengormley.

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