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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 18:52 GMT
Fierce storms batter Britain
A man tries to control his umbrella in strong winds and heavy rain while walking past Edinburgh Castle
Strong winds and heavy rain in Edinburgh
Gale force winds of over 80 miles per hour are battering western parts of the British Isles, with more storms forecast for the weekend.

More than 60 flood warnings are in place across the country on Friday evening, and some coastal parts of Wales and northern England have already experienced flooding.

Some homes in Barrow-on-Furness, Cumbria, were inundated with at least two feet of water, while there is said to be severe flooding in the Cardigan Bay area of Wales.

The extreme weather has also caused widespread disruption to road, rail and ferry services.

Power cables rest on the ground near Peebles
Power lines were brought down in the Scottish borders

The West Coast train line between London and Scotland has been closed after power lines were damaged.

And thousands of Welsh rugby fans are stranded in Fishguard after ferries taking them to Saturday's Six-Nations match against Ireland were disrupted due to nine-metre waves and howling gales.

The UK's largest container port, at Felixstowe in Suffolk, has also been closed because of high winds, though ferry services are not affected.

In Wales, the River Towy in Carmarthen has burst its banks, while a landslip has disrupted rail services between Carmarthen and Llanelli.

If the roads are bad, think twice if your journey is absolutely necessary

Superintendent Colin McNeill
Lothian and Borders Police
And in Bexley Heath, south-east London, a section of a supermarket roof was blown off, but no-one was thought to have been injured.

Northern Ireland and north-west Scotland are expected to bear the brunt of the strong winds this weekend, but gale force gusts will also hit northern and western Britain.

Forecasters say winds will abate by Sunday but downpours could cause flooding. The wet conditions are expected to continue into next week.

Coastal flooding could affect parts of Devon and Cornwall, and 16 flood warnings are in place across Wales.

There are still up to 50 homes in Northern Ireland without electricity, and power lines have been brought down in Argyll and on the Isle of Bute.

Trains cancelled

Police have issued a warning to motorists after two men died on Thursday when a tree fell on their car near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

Drivers are being asked to take extra care and, when winds are strong, to travel only on essential journeys.

A lorry blown over by severe winds on the A69 near Carlisle, Cumbria
Police are warning motorists to be careful

Virgin Trains has cancelled services between Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh, because of flooding, line damage and fallen trees.

In Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued a third severe flood warning for the Teviot Water in the Borders.

Fourteen flood warnings were in force on Friday for parts of the River Clyde in Glasgow, the Tay near Kenmore, the Lyon in Perth and Kinross, the Liddel Water, Ettrick Water and the Nith, all in Dumfries and Galloway.

Coastal areas under warning included: Argyll, West Dunbartonshire, the North Ayrshire coast and Arran.

Scottish Hydro Electric had helicopters on standby to patrol badly affected areas, to minimise further disruption caused by trees partly blown over.

Eight people died in gales which swept Scotland and northern England on Monday and Tuesday.

Flood risk

England's Environment Agency has warned strong winds and heavy rain could cause flooding in southern coastal areas.

The Tynemouth Swimming Pool roof was blown off
The winds have caused structural damage

Flood alerts have been issued for the tidal River Severn at Gloucester and areas stretching from Gainsborough to West Stock.

There are 35 flood watches across England, including six in Anglia, 15 in the south, eight in the south-west and five for the Thames area.

Pete Gibbs, broadcast meteorologist at the BBC Weather Centre, said: "On Sunday, the winds will ease down but rain is likely to continue across southern England."

He said Scotland would be getting less extreme weather by Sunday night.

The BBC's Catherine Marston
"The winds were treacherous"
The BBC's Richard Bilton
"Tonight will be another night of damage"
Amer O'Connell, Environment Agency
"Our defences have been standing up very well"
Dennis Kirby, Scottish Hydro-Electricity
"We have helicopters on standby"
See also:

01 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
Storms threaten power supplies
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