Dec 24 2013
Britain's bleak midwinter continued today with strong winds, floods and fallen trees causing chaos to travellers trying to get away for Christmas.
Many rail services were disrupted, with some companies unable to run any trains at all, while a power outage at Gatwick airport's north terminal added to flight problems.
On the roads, many major routes were flooded or blocked by fallen trees, with Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Cornwall among the affected counties.
In Dorset fire crews had to rescue 25 people trapped in their cars by flood water, while as many as 150,000 homes across the country were left without power.
The port of Dover had to close overnight due to the strong winds but reopened again at 7.30am.
With the worst of the storms now likely to affect Scotland and Northern Ireland, the severe weather has caused four deaths.
A man's body was pulled from the River Rothesay in Ambleside in Cumbria, while a woman died in a river in Gwynedd, North Wales.
A woman was killed in a car accident in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, last night and a man died in a multiple-collision crash near Bodmin in Cornwall on Sunday night.
The Environment Agency issued hundreds of flood warnings across all of England and Wales, with a severe flood warning - the highest level, warning of danger to life - in south west England, where properties were expected to flood.
Those working right up to Christmas and those getting away for the holidays faced severe disruption to rail services.
The Southern and Southeastern train companies suspended services, which meant no Gatwick Express services were running, while a number of other companies were unable to run any early-morning trains.
South West Trains said no trains were running before 10am, with the company reporting 28 trees blocking its lines as well as six instances of flooding.
Network Rail asked for passengers' patience, saying it had teams out overnight to assess the state of tracks. It said in southern England the storm damage was greater than that of the "St Jude's Storm" a few weeks ago.
The c2c train company said most services had resumed, with the company running an off-peak timetable today.
On First Capital Connect and on East Coast services, flooding at Potters Bar in Hertfordshire led to disruption and diversion. Southern and Southeastern were able to operate some routes as the morning went on.
Greater Anglia and First Great Western were among the companies continuing to suffer delays, while London Midland services between Bedford and Bletchley had to be suspended.
The Environment Agency had 276 flood alerts and 162 more severe flood warnings in place, almost 120 of which were in south west and south east England.
The deep area of low pressure was expected to move away northwards during Christmas Day, with severe gales across the far north slowly easing.
But g ales are likely to increase on Boxing Day, peaking during Friday.
The Energy Networks Association (ENA), which represents power companies across the UK, said 150,000 homes were without power, mainly in the south of England.
Kent, Surrey and Sussex are the worst-affected areas, while an ENA spokesman said e ngineers are facing "very difficult and challenging conditions" as they work to reconnect homes.
UK Power Networks, which delivers power to eight million customers across the South East, East of England and London, said around 70,000 homes it supplies are without power.