Two injured as gales return to lash UK

 

A woman and a 10-year-old boy were taken to hospital today after a tree crashed on to their car as strong winds returned.

Emergency services were called to the incident outside Shenley Primary School in the Hertfordshire village of Shenley at around 7.50am.

The woman and the boy, who were travelling in a red Vauxhall Vectra, received minor injuries, the East of England Ambulance Service said.

A spokesman said: "The East of England Ambulance Service was alerted to the London Road at 7.50am. An ambulance crew from Watford attended the scene...

"Following treatment by the ambulance crews, (the pair) were both taken to Barnet General Hospital for further care."

Gusts of up to 76mph were forecast throughout the country, with the north of Wales expected to see the highest speeds.

Winds of up to 87mph were recorded at Capel Curig in Wales at 2am following a brief respite from storms which resulted in two deaths.

Forecasters said the winds were now hailing from a north-westerly rather than a westerly direction, bringing with them a drop in temperature.

Sally Webb, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "It will be quite blustery later but through the day the winds are weakening gradually. Overnight it should calm down a lot compared to how it has been.

"There are more north-westerly winds today, which is why they feel quite a bit chillier."

North Yorkshire Police urged motorists last night to make only essential journeys as the whole county experienced "severe" weather and delays were expected on the M25 because of the closure of the Dartford Crossing's QEII Bridge.

The Met Office issued yellow warnings of wind for Strathclyde, south west Scotland and Lothian Borders, Northern Ireland, Wales and north west England.

London Fire Brigade attended a string of wind-related incidents across the capital overnight, when gusts blew a wind turbine in Barking and scaffolding in Tavistock Square into "precarious positions".

Just after midnight, firefighters were called to reports of a tree that had tumbled on to a house in strong winds in Chingford, east London, trapping four people inside.

A spokeswoman said: "Two fire engines, a fire rescue unit and around 15 firefighters attended the incident. They used a saw to cut away some branches and four people were then able to leave the house.

"Firefighters called a tree surgeon and BT engineer to the scene."

One of the men who died in the high winds on Tuesday was named by police as married father-of-three Christopher Hayes, 51, who was killed when a tree crushed his parked van in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

The second death was a crew member on board a tanker owned by Pritchard-Gordon Tankers Ltd, which was hit by a large wave off the coast of the south Devon/Cornwall border.

Two other injured crew members were in a stable condition.

North Yorkshire Police said it received a "high number" of weather-related calls last night.

The A66 was closed after a tree fell on to the A19 and several lorries were blown over in high winds, a spokesman said.

The Highways Agency said the Severn Crossing between England and Wales was closed to high-sided vehicles and motorcycles in both directions due to strong winds.

It also warned anyone planning to use the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex of possible delays as winds of 60mph were predicted for the area.

Humberside Police urged motorists to take care after a number of trees were brought down overnight.

A spokesman said trees have been blocking roads or causing obstructions in areas of Grimsby, Hull, Bridlington, Driffield and Snaith.

The spokesman said: "Motorists are urged to take extra care and beware of obstructions that may have blown into the road, and pedestrians are also asked to take extra care as numerous trees have blown down and more may do so before the winds calm down."

The Humber Bridge and the M62 over the Ouse Bridge, near Howden, were both closed to high-sided vehicles.

North Yorkshire Fire Service said crews were called out to localised flooding at a small number of homes in the Skipton area and firefighters used a boat to help rescue a barge which was in danger of overturning when it was caught in moorings on the River Ouse in central York.

The brigade said a lorry driver was taken to hospital when an HGV overturned on the A1 at Leeming and crews were called to two incidents of cars trapped in flood water - one in Acaster Malbis, near York, and the other at Embsay, near Skipton.

The high winds led to a series of disruptions to rush-hour train services across the country.

In Scotland, buses replaced trains between Paisley Gilmour Street and Gourock/ Wemyss Bay, among other areas.

And in England trees on the line near Huntingdon led to delays on services between London and Peterborough, while a line obstruction in Kent caused delays of up to 60 minutes between Paddock West and Strood.

Overhead wire problems also caused rail disruption between Handforth and Cheadle Hulme near Manchester and buses replaced trains between Wilmslow and Cheadle Hulme.

Chiltern Railways had to contend with a number of trees on the line between London and Aylesbury.

A tree on the line at Porchester in Hampshire led to train delays in the area, while another fallen tree at Wood End in the West Midlands caused delays to London Midland services between Stratford-upon-Avon and Shirley.

Further north, overhead wire problems caused disruption between Penrith North Lakes and Oxenholme Lake District. There were delays of up to 45 minutes between Carlisle and Lancaster.

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: "Some rail services have been disrupted owing to incredibly strong wind and localised flooding overnight and this morning.

"Hundreds of fallen trees and debris including ripped-off roofs and children's trampolines have been removed from tracks and scores of damaged overhead power lines have been repaired across the country by Network Rail engineers.

"Passenger safety is the industry's top priority but we apologise to anyone who has been affected by disruption.

"Train companies and Network Rail will continue to work closely together to resolve problems quickly in what are extremely challenging conditions, to ensure as many trains can safely run as possible."

Cheshire Police said officers had attended more than 15 incidents relating to fallen trees, branches, and debris in the road since 6am today.

A spokeswoman said: "The eastern parts of Cheshire have been particularly affected by the weather. Police and other agencies have attended reports of fallen trees in Oak Road, Prestbury, School Lane in Congleton, and Ashley Road in Mere this morning."

In Cambridgeshire, police said more than 20 trees were brought down by strong winds overnight.

A police spokesman said: "We are working with the Highways Agency and local authorities to ensure trees and debris are removed from roads as quickly as possible."

Essex Fire Service said it had been called out to dozens of incidents, including fallen cables and trees and dislodged television aerials.

Norfolk County Council said it dealt with 200 incidents on the county's roads overnight as gales and rain brought trees, branches and a power line down, and blew debris on to roads and pavements.

Seven two-man road gangs were in action throughout the night and responded to around 120 incidents reported by the police.

Three schools were closed because of weather-related problems.

High winds brought down trees and power lines across the South West, blocking several roads.

Power lines blocked a bus route in Plymouth after they were brought down between Little Comfort and Treburley.

The A388 was blocked by a tree just north of the Springer Spaniel pub, half way between Callington and Launceston in Devon, and in south-east Cornwall, Trelawney Road was closed in Menheniot because of a fallen tree.

Trees also blocked at least two routes near Exeter and firefighters had to secure a metal shed in Cullompton after it blew across a garden.

A sandbank whipped up by the strong winds from a beach closed a road in Widemouth Bay, near Bude in Cornwall.

In Gloucestershire fire crews were called out after a tree caught fire in Twyning due to collapsed power cables. Police also attended the scene and closed the road while power engineers dealt with the situation.

Approximately five other roads in the county were also affected by falling trees.

Somerset Council said it had six recorded incidents of downed trees, including one where the tree was "resting" on a power line at Smith's Lane, Fivehead, near Taunton. The council said BT had been informed.

A spokeswoman for Avon and Somerset Police added there had been "no major impact" from the winds last night.

Meanwhile Environment Agency flood alerts remain in place for a number of rivers including the River Tavy at Tavistock and most the the River Tamar.

Around 1,000 homes in the Salisbury area of Wiltshire are without electricity after power cables came down due to strong winds, Southern Electric said.

Shrewton, Coombe Bassett, Stapleford, Berwick St James, Winterbourne Stoke and Broadchalke were all affected.

A spokeswoman said: "We have around 1,000 properties off in Salisbury just now, these are faults that have just developed this morning due to the winds last night.

"We have four different faults and most of them are due to overhead line damage, but our engineers are carrying out the repairs and most of them are expected to come back on this afternoon."

The company said the power went off at different times throughout the area between 4.30am and 8.30am.

The Met Office said 112mph gusts were recorded between 10pm and 11pm yesterday at Great Dun Fell, which is 2,780ft above sea level in the Pennines.

This was the highest wind speed recorded this week, a spokesman said.

But it was still some way off this winter's record of 165mph winds at Cairngorm summit in the Scottish Highlands on December 8.

Squally conditions have caused turbulent air and pockets of intense showers around the country today, the spokesman said.

In Leicestershire, high winds and heavy rain have caused trees to fall across the county.

According to Leicestershire Police, a call was received at around 4.45am to say a number of trees had come down on the A46, blocking the carriageway in both directions.

The fire service was informed and tailbacks resulted until the road was cleared around 6.30am.

No injuries or major incidents were reported, a force spokeswoman said.

She said: "We are advising motorists to remain cautious on the roads, especially as it gets dark."

Thousands of people in the Midlands were without electricity this afternoon.

In the East Midlands, 5,000 customers were off supply, mainly in north Nottingham and Derbyshire.

The figure was reduced from the 10,000 who were without power this morning, a spokesman for Western Power Distribution said.

In the West Midlands, 3,500 customers were cut off this afternoon, mainly in Stoke and Staffordshire.

The spokesman said a total of 6,000 were without power this morning.

Northamptonshire Police said high winds were causing disruption across the county's roads, with many affected by fallen trees and branches.

The force dealt with approximately 30 incidents of trees blocking roads this morning.

There were no reported serious incidents as a result of the weather conditions.

Among some of those dealt with by the force was a tree that had fallen on a car in Morrisons car park in Wellingborough and another that had fallen on a car windscreen in West Haddon Road, Crick. There were no serious injuries in either incident.

A spokesman for the force said: "Police are encouraging road users to be cautious of the road ahead in these conditions and to drive carefully and more slowly, particularly on country roads."

Two people were injured when damaged overhead cable equipment smashed a window on a train near Ely in Cambridgeshire at about 7.20am.

Train services were replaced by buses on the route between King's Lynn in Norfolk and London, causing delays of around 90 minutes.

Ambulance crews said one passenger suffered a head injury and another a leg injury. In both cases the injuries were described as minor.

Two women had to be cut free from a car when a tree blew down on it in Eaglescliffe, Teesside, last night.

The occupants were trapped in the back of the vehicle in Yarm Road.

An ambulance took the women to the University Hospital of North Tees with what were thought to be back injuries at around 11.20pm.

PA

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