UK Hit By ‘Multi-Pronged Storm’

Waves roll through streets, flood sirens sound and more flights are diverted, as storms pound the UK.

Storms battered Britain tonight as waves rolled into shopping streets, train lines were closed by a landslide and flood sirens drove people from their homes.

At least 10 flights were diverted from Heathrow to airports including Newcastle as the UK was battered by a fresh round of heavy winds, rain and snow.

Weather experts described the situation as a “multi-pronged attack”.

Newlyn, Cornwall
A wave rolls into a street in Newlyn, Cornwall. Pic: @traceysuckling
The wave spreads as passers-by run for dry ground. Pic: @traceysuckling

Wind speeds reached 80mph, whipping up 30ft waves along the Dorset coast as flood sirens sounded in Chiswell on the Isle of Portland.

Forecasters warn the appalling conditions show no signs of abating, with heavy rain continuing into tomorrow.

In Cornwall, photographer Tracey Suckling captured the moment  a wave crashed into a shopping street in Newlyn, Cornwall, soaking residents.

Elderly couple rescue in Egham, Surrey
Emergency services rescue a couple from a flooded street in Egham, Surrey

Elsewhere, a landslide blocked the railway on the Redhill Line out of London, near Merstham Tunnel.

Thousands of passengers face severe delays following the incident, which happened at around 5.20pm today, and they are expected to continue well into the evening.

Met Office warnings map
The most serious amber warning covers the south. Picture: Met Office

Meanwhile, the army is helping instal new flood barriers near the Thames – one already nicknamed the ‘Chertsey sausage’ – as workers race to beat the oncoming rain.

In Portsmouth, police warned residents to ignore calls from a hoaxer asking them to evacuate their homes.

The ‘Chertsey sausage’ is put into position

Hampshire Police said the man was falsely claiming to be from the National Flood Helpline.

David Cameron has promised to do “whatever it takes” to help those affected and said the Government was “fighting on every front”.

Prince William and Prince Harry have also been mucking in to help flood victims, joining the Household Cavalry to shore up sandbag defences in Datchet, Berkshire.

Snow on the roads in Blaenavon, South Wales
Snow this morning in Blaenavon, in the south Wales valleys

A Kensington Palace spokesman said the princes “wanted to show their support for the flood victims”.

The number of severe ‘danger to life’ flood warnings rose to 24 by this evening.

Fifteen of them cover areas around the River Thames, two are in Somerset, two in Devon, one in Cornwall, three in Dorset and one for the River Severn at Alney Island, near Gloucester.

Flood barrier in Staines
Workers put up a flood barrier in Staines, Surrey

More than 350 less serious alerts cover the rest of England and Wales.

The new rain could cause rivers to burst their banks again and coastal areas are at risk from large waves.

Rainfall from 6am this morning to 6pm exceeded 20mm in many areas of the country including 31mm in Bournemouth, 26mm at North Dartmoor and 20mm in Plymouth.

In the highlands of Wales, northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, the rain could turn to snow, with up to 20cm (8 inches) falling above 1,300ft (400m).

The flooded crypt at Winchester cathedral

Power is still out to around 17,000 homes in northwest England after gusts of more than 100mph battered parts of the British Isles on “Wild Wednesday”.

Ireland is also taking a pounding from the harsh weather, with heavy rain and high tides expected to bring flooding to Cork on Friday night.

Phone lines are also still down for tens of thousands of Irish households and 50,000 are without power.

An RAF Tornado jet took this image of Bourne End, Buckinghamshire

In the UK, Windsor, Maidenhead and other Thames communities remain at high risk as the river rises in places to its highest level for 60 years.

An ‘aqua dam’ – already dubbed the ‘Chertsey sausage’ by some people – has been put up in the Surrey town to protect vulnerable homes.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, MP for the area, was out on Friday to see the preparations.

He told Sky News things had “bedded down” in terms of dealing with floods, but that the big challenge for everyone would be “managing the transition from crisis to recovery”.

Gurkhas and Environment Agency workers in nearby Staines have installed another barrier, shipped in flat-pack from Sweden, that can hold back water five feet high (1.5m).

Meanwhile, residents living near the River Severn have been told to “take action now” as the Environment Agency added a new ‘danger to life’ warning for Alney Island, near Gloucester.

Alerts for the Severn in Worcestershire have been in place for days, with the river reaching its highest level since records began.

The flooding risk also continues on the Somerset Levels, which have endured weeks of misery, and there is still a high risk of coastal floods in Dorset – particularly in Christchurch, Chiswell and Preston beach.

Since early December, 5,800 properties have been flooded across the country.

Mr Cameron, speaking in Blackpool this morning, said: “The military are in there, sandbags are being deployed, we’ve got the biggest pumping operation in our country’s history on the Somerset Levels. Everything that can be done will be done.”

Some 2,200 personnel from the Army, Navy and RAF have been drafted in to deal with the ongoing crisis. Three thousand more are on standby.

They are helping fill and distribute sandbags, put up barriers, assist residents and examining the condition of existing flood defences.

The military has also sent a Tornado GR4 jet and a Sentinel R1 aircraft to take surveillance pictures of the flooding.

Some 70% of the fire and rescue service in England and Wales are now involved in the relief effort – the largest deployment since the Second World War.



Source : Sky News

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