UK weather: three dead as gale-force winds batter country


Met Office issues warnings for floods and strong winds as Storm Erik causes disruption

At least three people have died as Storm Erik, with gale-force winds of up to 75mph, swept across the UK over the past 36 hours.

A kitesurfer was killed after an incident on a beach in north Devon, where winds of up to 56mph were recorded according to the Met Office, although a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police would not confirm whether the death was weather-related.

Police said the man, who has not yet been identified, had been airlifted to North Devon district hospital, but was confirmed dead later after sustaining fatal injuries on the beach at Saunton Sands, near Barnstaple, on Saturday morning.

A spokesman for the local police said: “This incident is not being treated as suspicious at this stage. The incident will remain in the hands of the coroner and a file of evidence will be submitted to the coroner. It is then a matter for an inquest.”

On Friday morning in Devon, a 50-year-old man was pronounced dead after a tree fell across the A384 in Buckfastleigh, trapping his vehicle beneath it. A second vehicle drove into the tree after it had fallen, with the sole occupant, the driver, treated at hospital for minor injuries.

Police were unable to confirm if the tree fell as a direct result of the high winds, and an investigation is ongoing.

Also on Friday morning, a van driver was killed after he collided with a fallen tree on the B4306 between Pontyberem and Llannon in west Wales. “A large tree had fallen across the road and collided with the van,” Dyfed-Powys police told WalesOnline. “Tragically, the male driver was pronounced dead at the scene and his family is being supported by police.”

The Met Office had issued a number of warnings for floods and strong winds on Saturday, and emergency services urged motorists to take care amid disruption on several roads.

The Met Office said wind speeds of 75mph were recorded in Powys, Wales, and 74mph in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, with gusts between 40 and 50mph typical across the rest of the country.

A yellow weather warning for strong wind covered much of Wales, central and northern England, and southern Scotland, with a separate yellow warning for northern Scotland that said flooding could follow heavy rains.

London North Eastern Railway restricted speeds on trains between Leeds and York, and Newcastle and Carlisle, to 80mph because of the wind, causing a number of trains to run late, and the cancellation of one service. Speed limits were also imposed on East Coast Main Line trains.

The wind damaged a CCTV mast near Dover, leaving it swaying above the A20, which remained closed while repairs were made, Highways England said. Elsewhere, traffic on the Dartford Crossing over the River Thames was restricted to two lanes and speeds of 30mph.

One lane was closed on the Severn Bridge between south Wales and south-west England due to the strong winds, and the A548 was closed in both directions around Mostyn, north Wales, because a tree fell across the carriageway.

In Yorkshire, the Ouse Bridge on the M62 and the Humber Bridge on the A15 were closed in both directions to high-sided and vulnerable vehicles.

Linton-on-Ouse, in north Yorkshire, was forecast to experience temperatures of up to 12.5C, the highest in the UK, with the lowest expected at Fyvie Castle, in Aberdeenshire, where the mercury could drop to -2.8C. The Cumbrian village of Shap was expected to record the highest rainfall, of more than 5cm.

Although the wet and windy weather was expected to ease, further difficult conditions were forecast. There would be showers in western and northern areas, with frost and fog forming as winds slowed down, and southern England could expect some rain, with patches of snow falling over hills.

On Sunday, that rain and snow was expected to clear east, with blustery showers following. Conditions in the north would be brighter, with some rain and gales possible later.

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