UK weather: Thousands without power as South-west takes a 'pasting' from high-winds and Britain braces for 'beast' of a storm

Most of the outages were caused by 'airborne debris'

Rob Williams
Wednesday 05 February 2014 10:57 GMT

Parts of Britain are bracing for yet more extreme weather, strong winds and heavy rain as forecasters warn a 'beast' of a storm is set to batter the country over the weekend.

Thousands of homes in south-west England, Wales and Ireland are still without power and transport networks are in chaos today after the country was battered by 80mph winds and heavy rain overnight.

Western Power Distribution said around 44,000 customers had been affected since Tuesday afternoon and a remaining 5,000 homes were still without power, despite staff working through the night.

Most of the outages were caused by "airborne debris" that had hit overhead power lines a company spokesman said.

"Over the last 12 hours or so 44,000 customers in the South-west have been off supply at some point but we've managed to restore it to all but 5,000 homes," he said.

"It's an extremely exceptional event. We have new staff being drafted in from nearby to replace our teams this morning. We have a constant approach to this because of the ongoing strong winds."

Phil Davies, network service manager for the company, said customers had "quite a pasting in the South-west overnight".


And forecasters have warned there is no respite from the conditions in the near future.

BBC weather presenter Derek Brockway warned on twitter that a new storm, dubbed 'Petra' was heading towards the UK today before adding: "And look at this beast heading our way for the weekend! Batten down the hatches again! Yet another #ukstorm."

"Wales will see strong to severe gale force winds Saturday, especially in exposed parts of the south and west. Gusts of wind in excess of 50mph inland and 70mph along the Bristol Channel coast," he wrote.

Meanwhile after last night's conditions there was significant disruption to rail services across South-west England this morning.

Forecasters warned that there would be no let-up in the bad weather hitting the region with winds likely to "continue along a similar sort of strength" throughout today.

The Met Office said people can expect weather in other areas to be "much of the same".

It issued "be prepared" amber warnings for strong winds across southern England and Wales.

"The band of rain which is moving across from the South-west will continue its journey north-eastwards during the course of the night, with fragmented outbreaks of rain - still pretty heavy - following on behind.

"It will continue to be very windy. We can expect to see gusts of 60mph-70mph quite widely across parts of South Wales, Devon and Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, those sorts of areas.

Speaking about the winds in the South-west, he added: "I would suspect they will probably continue along a similar sort of strength.

"That's part of the reason why the conditions have been so bad at the moment, so no, I don't think we're going to see any easing of the winds really until maybe late Wednesday or for a time through Thursday.

"Until then, some very strong winds to come."

Twenty people in Kingsand in Cornwall were evacuated overnight because their homes were being damaged by stones washed ashore and coming through their windows and Devon and Cornwall police received 300 emergency calls overnight.

The highest recorded wind speed was 92mph (148km/h) on the Isles of Scilly.

The Environment Agency has also issued nine severe flood warnings meaning "danger to life", covering much of the south coast from Cornwall to Dorset. Among them are West Bay Harbour, Lyme Regis Harbour and Weymouth Seafront at The Esplanade.

There are 67 flood warnings and 213 flood alerts also in place.

The agency said on its website: "Today and tomorrow high tides, a positive surge, strong winds and large waves combine to bring a risk of significant impacts from coastal flooding to much of South-west England and southern England coastlines and minor impacts to the west Wales coastline."

A man on a bike cycles through flood water in Cork city

High winds and stormy seas also led to further damage to one of Britain's most recognisable seaside piers.

A section of the 148-year-old, Grade-I listed West Pier in Brighton fell victim to the weather overnight.

Rachel Clark, chief executive of the West Pier Trust, which owns it, said: "There have been collapses for several weeks as we've had the high winds, but this is more significant and obvious."

In Dawlish, Devon, a section of seawall under the railway line collapsed, leaving the track suspended in mid-air.

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