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SERVICES 
Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 19:42 GMT 20:42 UK
Britain hit by August storms
West Welsh Open at The Celtic Manor Resort Golf Course
Downpours affected travel, shopping, and sport
Britain has been lashed by severe weather including torrential downpours, flooding and strong winds.

One man is recovering in hospital after a mini-tornado hit a caravan park in southern England.

People in the south east of England have been warned that more torrential rain is expected overnight and drivers should take particular care.

Localised flooding is expected in places.


We have suffered a monsoon-style deluge

Hampshire Fire Brigade spokesman
More than two inches of rain (55mm) was recorded in Northolt, Greater London.

More than half the average monthly rainfall fell in just six hours at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, which recorded 1.2ins (30mm) compared with the monthly average of 2.2ins (55mm).

The heaviest rain centred around the M4 from the west of England across to Essex and Kent.

Most of the rain fell in just two hours.

Shopping 'monsoon'

Some holiday attractions were affected by the unseasonal weather.

Few balloons took to the skies during the first day of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. But conditions were expected to clear for the "Night Glow" event on Thursday.

Hampshire was one of the worst affected counties and part of a shopping complex in Portsmouth was closed due to flooding.

Wet fans at the GWRfm live concert at the balloon fiesta
Rain poured on music fans at the Bristol International Balloon Festival
A Hampshire Fire Brigade spokesman said they had responded to dozens of incidents in Portsmouth.

"We have suffered a monsoon-style deluge and a number of shops have been shut temporarily and sandbagged to prevent their basements from flooding," he said.

A mini tornado also hit the county, lifting a caravan into the air, sweeping it across a car park in Gosport. The two-berth caravan smashed into a second, knocking it upside down.

One man inside the second caravan was taken to hospital for treatment.

Roofs were damaged and tiles were plucked from a nearby housing estate.

Holidaymaker Tony Murrell, 61, of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire said: "It looked like a flock of birds flying around and then I realised it was debris and rain being sucked upwards and moving towards us.

"I thought it was headed straight for us but then it veered off and took the two caravans."

Flood warning

Essex was also hit by the August storms.

Roads in Coggeshall, Essex, were flooded and an Essex Fire Brigade spokeswoman said there were horrific thunderstorms and flash flooding.

"We are urging motorists to drive with care," she said.

Flooding closed three London Underground stations - Preston Road on the Metropolitan line, Kennington on the Northern line, and Gants Hill on the Central line.

Russell Square station on the Piccadilly line was also affected for a time before conditions eased.

Sporting fixtures around the country were rained off and the only cricket match to continue uninterrupted was at Old Trafford in Manchester.

Flood warnings have been issued in the Anglian region.

The south of England can expect more torrential rain and hazardous driving conditions on Thursday night.

Friday is expected to be drier with a few showers developing in eastern areas.

See also:

06 Jul 01 | UK
UK braced for more storms
04 Jul 01 | Scotland
Storms leave homes without power
15 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Flood defences need 'urgent repairs'
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