Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Sunday, 22 June 2008 18:36 UK

Britain battered by summer gales

The BBC's Tomasz Schafernaker says high winds are battering parts of the UK

Rare summer gales have battered parts of the UK, with storm force winds at sea and gusts reaching more than 60mph on land.

The worst affected were north Wales, northern England and the Midlands.

Blackpool Airport recorded a gust of 63mph at lunchtime, while major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds have seen winds of around 50mph.

BBC forecaster Tomasz Schafernaker said the winds were "strong enough to bring down branches and even whole trees".

"So far the strongest winds - storm force 10 - have been on Irish Sea coasts," he said.

"However, damage to trees was reported as early as this morning in parts of Shropshire and Derby."

He added: "It's fairly rare to have a full blown gale like this in the summer months and much of the country has had a very windy day today."

Escaped the worst

The storms have also reached East Anglia and Northern Ireland with localised gusts of between 40mph and 50mph.


One family had a lucky escape when a tree fell through the roof

Thousands of homes in the Midlands were left temporarily without power, a Central Networks spokesman said, mostly due to trees falling on power lines.

In Shrewsbury, 700 homes were cut off for two hours while 2,800 properties in Madeley, Telford, Shropshire, had no electricity for nearly one hour.

Additionally, 1,500 houses had no power for two hours in Armitage near Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Householders at one Wolverhampton address escaped unhurt when a 30ft tree crashed through their roof.

Southern Scotland had been braced for bad weather but escaped the worst of the storms.

However, strong winds battered the north of Scotland, with gusts in Stornoway reaching 54mph.

The Britannia Bridge between mainland Wales and Anglesey was closed to caravans and high sided vehicles because of high winds. Irish Sea ferry services between Fishguard and Rosslare were also hit.

One person was hurt when a marquee collapsed in Caerwys, Flintshire, and rail services were affected after a train hit a tree near Wrexham.

A leg of the powerboat Round Britain Race was also postponed.

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