Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Sunday, 18 January 2009

UK hit by strong gales and storms

Warrenpoint (Picture: John McManus)
Northern Ireland saw winds of up to 100mph

Severe gales and heavy rain have caused havoc across the UK, with winds of up to 100mph.

Exposed parts of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales saw the worst of the conditions into the evening.

In Downpatrick, a motorist died when a tree fell on her car while Northern Ireland Electricity says 15,000 homes are without power.

Forecasters said snow showers were expected in Cumbria overnight, with the rest of the UK becoming calmer.

The dead motorist was a woman in her 30s whose car was struck by a tree on Strangford Road in Downpatrick at 1600 GMT on Saturday.

Surfer rescue

Northern Ireland Electricity said major faults had been reported in Craigavon and Downpatrick, while Ballyclare and Bangor were also affected.

Some homes in Newry were left without power for a time, but that has since been restored.

Meanwhile, a surfer had to be rescued after drifting a mile out to sea off the Kintyre coast at Machrihanish.

The 22-year-old was rescued by a helicopter crew just before 1700 GMT on Saturday after being caught up in heavy storms.

He was taken to hospital with suspected mild hypothermia.

A coastguard spokesman said the wind had whipped up to force 11, one grade below hurricane conditions.

"There were two guys, and one of them lost sight of his mate and got washed out.

"We got things going and he was located by the Prestwick helicopter just before it got dark, so he was very lucky."

In Scotland's Western Isles, people were told not to travel because of severe gales in the Outer Hebrides.

In western Wales, forecasters warned of winds gusting up to 70mph which were strong enough to cause structural damage to buildings.

In Devon and Cornwall, winds brought down power lines, telegraph poles, trees and scaffolding in parts of Cornwall and Devon, causing some road closures.

Wind chill

The wet, blustery weather was caused by a deep Atlantic depression very close to the north west of Scotland.

Daniel Corbett of the BBC Weather Centre said: "The weather system which brought the rain and the wind has moved away from the north coast of Scotland."

But he said there would be wintry showers across northern England overnight.

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Woman killed as tree falls on car
18 Jan 09 |  Northern Ireland
Surfer rescued from stormy seas
17 Jan 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Heavy snows heading for Cumbria
18 Jan 09 |  Cumbria


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