London: Storm winds and torrential rain have swept Britain, leaving two people dead, thousands of homes without power, and wreaking havoc on the great Christmas getaway.
Festive travellers were bracing themselves for another day of chaos today as fallen debris cluttered roads and rails across the country.
As the brunt of the storm drove in from the Atlantic, huge waves and gales of up to 80mph crashed into the south coast of England and Aberystwyth, in west Wales.
In Cumbria and north Wales the bodies of a man and a woman were separately pulled from swollen rivers hit by heavy downpours.
There were few reports of flooded homes, but severe gales brought down cables, cutting off power to 9,000 homes in Berkshire and 3,000 in Cornwall. The Environment Agency has issued a severe flood warning in the south west, saying “extremely dangerous” conditions posed a danger to life.
The agency also issued 34 flood warnings, of which 19 were in the south-west, and warned a further 200 regions to be on alert for isolated floods.
As travellers planned to make their last-minute Christmas getaway forecasters warned that the worst of the weather may not have passed. “A rapidly deepening area of low pressure is developing to the west of Ireland and is forecast to pass just to the north-west of the UK overnight and on Tuesday,” said Andy Page, the Met Office chief forecaster. “This brings the potential for possible disruption to transport because of the strong winds and also flooding in some areas.”