Man dies as torrential rain and wind cause UK flood havoc
Torrential rain and high winds across much of the UK have resulted in widespread flooding, with more stormy weather predicted for the weekend.
A man died in floods in Chew Stoke near Bath on Thursday and three elderly people were rescued after their car was swept down a Warwickshire ford.
Trains are likely to be suspended between Exeter, Taunton and Bristol Temple Meads until Monday.
A second storm wave is expected to hit parts of the UK on Saturday morning.
However, forecasters are uncertain where the "most significant" weather will hit.
A Downing Street spokeswoman estimated that 300 properties in England and Wales had been flooded in the past 24 hours.
She added that the Environment Agency was closely monitoring conditions and had deployed teams to try to reduce the impact.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is due to visit flood-hit areas in the West Midlands later.
Storm force winds
Avon Fire and Rescue Service said the dead man became trapped in his car under a bridge in Chew Stoke.
Specialist rescue crews could not reach him in time, and he was pronounced dead before he arrived at hospital.
Local residents believe the driver was trying to cross the swollen ford when his vehicle was caught in the current and swept downstream.
Avon and Somerset Search and Rescue volunteer Duncan Massey described the difficult conditions.
He said: "Access was terrible. The water going down there was like a raging torrent. Nearly impossible to get in the water, I would say. It was very deep and swift flowing, and dark."
Weather warnings have been issued for the weekend, with the Met Office saying winds could damage buildings and uproot trees. More flooding is possible, especially on ground which is already saturated by Thursday's rain.
Gusts of 60-70mph could hit south-eastern coastal counties of England and there is the potential for storm force winds over the English Channel.
In other developments:
- Three elderly people had to be rescued from their car as it was swept down a flooded ford near Alcester in Warwickshire. The vehicle was carried for more than 500 yd before a farmer managed to secure it to allow emergency services to work.
- Fire crews rescued a man who became trapped in his car in rising waters on the A45 at Stone, Staffordshire.
- Ten elderly people were evacuated from their homes in Exeter after a 20ft (6m) wall collapsed at about 20:20 GMT on Thursday. Hundreds of tonnes of rubble was dislodged and no-one was hurt
- A landslip at Upper Camden Place in Bath forced the overnight evacuation of the houses below. It was caused by a 7ft (2m) boulder becoming dislodged from a supporting wall
- A fallen tree caused delays and cancellations to train services in north Worcestershire, London Midland said. The tree blocked the line between Blakedown and Kidderminster and has now been moved
- In Ulverston, Cumbria, a hospice was evacuated after a nearby stream burst its banks, flooding bedrooms and offices
- Emergency rest centres were opened at Llandudno Junction, Caernarfon and Bangor overnight after drivers on the A55 in north-west Wales were forced to abandon their cars. The dual carriageway near Bangor was blocked for several hours. Single lanes were re-opened in the early hours of Friday morning with a 40mph speed restriction
- Winds gusting at about 90mph battered south-west Wales. In one major incident, the emergency services including an RAF Sea King helicopter rescued a driver trapped in her car in deep, fast-flowing water in a swollen river at St Clears, Carmarthenshire
- Whitesands in Dumfries flooded for the second time in seven days, and about 500 homes in the region lost power after a lightning strike
- The RAC said it had been called to 60% more incidents in south-west England than normal, and 19% more in Wales. The AA said road conditions were only likely to get worse
By Friday afternoon, the Environment Agency had 71 flood warnings and more than 150 flood alerts in place in England and Wales. Flood warnings mean people should take action because flooding is expected, and flood alerts indicate to prepare for possible flooding.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency now has no flood warnings in place and only one flood alert, in West Central Scotland.
Train services have been delayed or cancelled in parts of England, Wales and Scotland.
First Great Western services between London Paddington and the west country are severely disrupted, and CrossCountry services between Exeter St Davids and Bristol Temple Meads are likely to be suspended until Monday due to flooding at Tiverton Parkway, Weston-super-Mare and Westbury.
South West Trains is running a replacement bus service between Exeter and Yeovil due to a landslide between Honiton and Axminster.
Train services between Bangor and Holyhead were suspended due to flooding on the tracks near Bodorgan, but are now running with delays of up to 15 minutes.
Delays caused by flooding to rail services between Lancaster and Carlisle and on ScotRail services between Kilmarnock and Dumfries had cleared by Friday afternoon.
BBC weather forecaster Steve Cleaton said that, while Friday was likely to be fairly calm, the bad weather will have arrived into south west England by 07:00 GMT on Saturday and will spread across swathes of the UK by the evening.
"Prolonged spells of rainfall are anticipated to gradually spread from the south and affect large areas of the UK through the course of Saturday, and during the first part of Sunday, causing flooding to areas of the country that have already been badly affected by adverse weather conditions seen earlier this week.
"In addition to concerns over rainfall, a relatively short-lived swathe of gale to severe gale force winds is also anticipated to affect parts of southern England through Saturday evening and overnight into Sunday morning."
Our forecaster added it was not yet clear which areas of the country would be hit by the most "significant" weather.
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