UK weather: Cold snap to continue until Monday as Storm Rachel wreaks havoc

Officials warned the public to take precautions against the cold weather

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One man died and at least three people were injured on Thursday, as gales and heavy rain battered parts of the UK– wreaking havoc for travellers and cutting the power supply to thousands of homes.

Over the course of a day, Britain was faced with snow, high winds and flooding, which caused trees to fall, and some buildings to become unsafe.

Travellers were forced to deal with road closures, bridge restrictions and cancelled rail services amid the extreme weather.

A van driver in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, died when a tree fell on top his vehicle, while a three-year-old child and an elderly woman were among three people hurt when a pallet was blown from a lorry in east Belfast.

Meanwhile in Scotland, snow up to 5ft deep left some drivers stranded overnight on the A9 route to the Highlands, and saw trains between Perth and Inverness cancelled.

Around 5,000 homes and businesses are without power in Northern Ireland and engineers are working to reconnect 2,100 properties in Dumfries and Galloway.

In the aftermath of a tornado which hit Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire yesterday, as many as 750 homes were cut off in Wales.


In Glasgow, a section of Bath Street in the city centre was closed after metal sheeting fell from the roof of a hotel and part of Potterrow in Edinburgh was cordoned off after cladding on the roof of a building came loose in the high winds.

Further south in Kent, trees on the line held up rail commuters, and in Birmingham rush hour traffic was diverted after high winds blew debris from a derelict pub onto the road.

The Met Office reported winds of 101mph in Great Dunsell, Cumbria - the highest across the UK yesterday - while other exposed areas also recorded speeds well in excess of 70mph.

And the cold snap shows no sign of abating any time soon, as forecasters have issued a cold weather alert for much of England from Thursday evening to noon on Monday.

Northern areas are expected to bear the brunt of the icy conditions. 

Strong waves begin to build as a woman walks along by the sea in Saltcoats, Scotland. (Getty)

The Met Office said: “Increasingly cold air will spread from the northwest across England on Thursday night and during Friday, with showers turning more wintry from the north.

"Average temperatures are expected to continue falling through the weekend, with a northerly airstream likely to be established by Sunday. Frost and ice are expected to become increasingly widespread through the period, with some severe overnight frosts likely in the north over any snow cover by Monday."

The Environment Agency currently has 25 flood warnings in place across England and Wales, with a further 12 issued north of the border.

Dr Angie Bone of the extreme events team at Public Health England warned the public to take precautions against the cold weather.

“Cold does kill, even in places where the temperatures aren't at their lowest,” she said.

“Most of our advice on keeping warm in cold weather may seem like common sense, but it's important that we make the point that people should think about how cold can affect them.

"This is also a good time to think about how the bad weather may affect your friends and family, particularly if they are older or very young or have pre-existing health conditions. These groups can be particularly vulnerable to the ill-effects of cold so think now what you could do to help."

Additional reporting by PA