Rain and gales to end spell of mild weather

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Britain can expect its worst storms of the winter next week, with winds of up to 75mph in some areas, weather forecasters warned.

Localised floods are possible, with up to 2.5cm (one inch) of rain likely to fall in a few hours.

Peter Stewart, national senior forecaster at the Met Office, said the recent mild spell was about to end. "What's coming will be more like typical January weather," he said

The weather will worsen this weekend, with widespread blustery showers coming up through the South-west. By the middle of the week, forecasters expect a depression now forming in the Atlantic to sweep in, bringing storms. It is expected to cross south Wales, Devon and Cornwall and the south coast of Ireland from Tuesday afternoon, said Jeremy Plester, a forecaster at the PA WeatherCentre. In those areas, sustained winds of between 35mph and 40mph can be expected with gusts of up to 75mph. There will be gales throughout most of Britain.

The weather will continue to be unsettled for a few days after the storm. But the risk of flooding on a scale similar to last year is thought to be low, at least for now. Mr Stewart said: "I suspect that the water table isn't as high as it was last year,so at this stage the rainfall probably isn't going to be such a risk as it was then."