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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Roads warning as bad weather hits
Start of Fastnet race
The Fastnet race was put back a day because of the forecast
Drivers have been warned to be careful on the roads as strong winds and heavy rain hit England and Wales.

The Highways Agency said the weather could be a particular problem for cars towing caravans or trailers.

The Met Office has severe weather warnings for most of the UK for Tuesday and Wednesday, with winds reaching 50mph and up to 50mm (2in) of rainfall.

More than half the yachts that started the Fastnet race off southern England have retired due to the bad weather.

Broken masts

A total of 149 of the 271 boats have pulled out but race organisers said there were no plans to cancel the event.

An RNLI lifeboat rescued a 36-year-old man who had broken his leg, and he was taken to hospital.

The 38 knots of wind created huge holes in the sea that the boat slammed into time and time again
Dee Caffari

Portland Coastguard said there were some broken masts, and another crew member was slightly injured but no medical attention was needed.

A number of vessels were sheltering along the Dorset and Devon coastline and in ports such Torbay, Plymouth and Weymouth.

BBC Sport's Matthew Pinsent, who was on board Aviva Ocean Racing, was forced out of the famous 608-mile race.

Falmouth Coastguard said the weather off Land's End was "lively" with force six winds gusting to force seven.

The course takes competitors from Cowes on the Isle of Wight to Plymouth via Fastnet Rock off the Irish coast.

'Operation Stack'

Eurostar trains between London Waterloo and Ashford International and Southeastern's London-bound services between Rochester and Swanley have been delayed for up to an hour due to a fallen tree on the track at Farningham Road in Kent.

Edgbaston cricket ground, Birmingham
Play was washed out at Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham

Southeastern trains between Rochester and Swanley via Longfield face short-notice alterations, cancellations and delays of up to 70 minutes due to a large tree on the lines in the Meopham area.

Felixstowe port in Suffolk has closed because of the weather and "Operation Stack" has been brought in on the A14 where lorries waiting to access the port are being parked.

There are no flights at Land's End airport and there are delays at Penzance heliport in Cornwall.

Rain washed out the day's cricket at Warwickshire, Glamorgan, Northamptonshire and Lancashire.

'Heavy downpours'

BBC weather forecaster Nina Ridge said: "England and Wales will see the worst of it today (Tuesday). It will be pretty cloudy and wet."

The forecast for Wednesday is for sunshine and showers which will be heavy and thundery in the south.

There will be a longer spell of heavy rain crossing some central areas and it will be windy in the west.

The Highways Agency said road users, especially cyclists and motorcyclists and anyone driving a high-sided vehicle or towing a caravan or trailer, should check the forecast before they travel.

The rain is not predicted to be of the volume that caused severe flooding last month.

Some areas saw more than 100mm (3.9in) in a single day in July, which resulted in the floods.

The Environment Agency has no flood warnings in place at present.


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Yachtsmen facing severe weather conditions



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