A winter storm is battering the UK and Ireland, just three days after another deep depression caused Christmas misery for many people.
The Christmas Eve storm is believed to be responsible for the deaths of five people across the UK, and at least 150,000 homes were without electricity at the height of the storm.
There are no reports of deaths from the latest storm which has already brought winds up to hurricane strength in more exposed areas. Before dawn on Friday, Aberdaron on the Lleyn Peninsula of North Wales, recorded a gust of 175 kph.
Some of the strongest winds have been in the Irish Republic, where the west and south of the country have been placed on the highest alert status. Winds close to hurricane strength have also been recorded across Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Although the strongest winds have struck the north and west of the British Isles, heavy rain has, once again, struck southern and southeastern areas, which are still recovering from near record rainfall over the Christmas period.
River levels across the Somerset Levels, and rivers Severn, Thames, Ouse, Medway and Stour have been at elevated levels over the Christmas period and the Environment Agency had more than 200 flood alerts and warnings in place across England and Wales.
The country’s main airports are not expected to be as badly affected as they were on Christmas Eve. Conditions at Gatwick were heavily criticized then as power in the North Terminal failed, leaving passengers stranded with little food, no heating and one functioning toilet.
A spokesperson for the airport said, “Additional teams of engineers, electrical staff and volunteers are at the airport to minimize the risk of disruption from potential further flooding.”
Once again, train services are expected to be badly disrupted. Network Rail advised that routes would need to be checked for trees and debris before any services could run.
The ongoing bad weather is a result of the position of the jet stream. This ribbon of strong winds at 10,000 metres has pushed well to the south of the UK, both aiding the formation of weather systems and driving them through at great speed.
A spell of quieter weather is expected until a band of rain crosses the country on Monday, bringing the threat of further flooding to parts of the UK.