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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 July, 2004, 02:12 GMT 03:12 UK
Storms cut power and block roads
Power lines
More than 40,000 homes were left without electricity
More than 40,000 homes were still without power on Wednesday evening after storms brought down power lines.

Engineers were drafted in to restore electricity to homes in five counties in the east and south-east of England.

Throughout the day and into the evening winds of over 40mph brought down trees and power lines, blocking roads and cutting power to a total 106,000 homes.

The summer storms, which have swept up from northern Spain, could also cause some flooding in the next 48 hours.

With temperatures set to fall as low as 13C, British Gas put its winter emergency contingency plan into operation as it prepared for a surge in demand with people switching their central heating on.

At this stage we cannot predict when all supplies will be restored as the weather front is still moving through our areas
EDF spokesman

A spokesman for power firm EDF urged people to stay away from any downed power lines, as some could still be live.

The company - which operates in the east and south-east region - said it could not predict when all supplies would be restored, as the weather front was still moving through the area.

A primary school dinner lady was taken to hospital with minor injuries after a tree fell in the playground.

Five children at Barrow Hedges Primary School in Carshalton, Surrey, were also treated for shock.

Worsening conditions

Gusts of more than 50mph were recorded in Mumbles and in the Brecon area of Wales.

Weather conditions in Wales were expected to worsen overnight, with heavy rain and high winds.

The highest winds were expected in the Severn Estuary, affecting Cardiff and Newport.

A crane blown over in the Cathays area of Cardiff caused road closures, and firefighters in mid and west Wales received a number of calls about fallen trees.

"The combination of strong winds, heavy rain and depressed temperatures are making it feel more like November," said a Met Office spokesman.

Falling trees closed a number of main roads, particularly in Kent and Hertfordshire. The A30 in Dorset was also blocked by a tree.

There were also delays on services run by the Southern, South Eastern, South West Trains and Thameslink train companies.

Drivers warned

Ferry company P&O had to cancel its fast-ferry Portsmouth-Cherbourg and Portsmouth-Caen services because of the high winds, while its Dover-Calais operations suffered delays.

An English National Opera performance in Trafalgar Square was cancelled, and the Hampton Court flower show was closed for the day.

The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park was flooded, just one day after it was officially opened by the Queen.

Officials had to turn off the water supply and clean out leaves that had blown off trees and clogged an outflow area.

The Highways Agency, which is responsible for motorways and trunk roads in England, urged drivers, especially of high-sided vehicles, to take extra care.

"Heavy rain and spray are likely to lead to reduced visibility. Drivers should slow down and keep well back from the vehicle travelling in front," a spokesman said.


Your comments

It's like November in July!
Will, Southampton
The whole of Southampton's roads have been moving at a snail's pace all afternoon. Everyone's driving extra slow and being careful not to flood their engines because of continuous puddles along the sides of roads. It's like November in July!
Will, Southampton

Was working at the local hospital today, and it absolutely tipped it down. Roaring thunder ensued and shook everything in sight. My typically 40 minute journey took 1hr 30mins.
Dave, Brighton, East Sussex

I went to try to catch the 15.36 train from Bentley to Woking to try to get to Surbiton! Pah! After announcements of "tree on the line" at the deserted station and claims of ignorance from the wall mounted information speaker (what is the point of them?), me and several other passengers had to wait over 2 hours before we were bussed back to Alton, then bussed to Farnham, then caught a limping train to Woking and changed again there to get to Surbiton! All in all a 45 min journey took me well over 4 hours.
Ian, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

Noticed the winds when I got off my train from Birmingham this evening although it was still shirt sleeves weather. 2 hours later and all our windows are closed and the central heating's back on. I'm not a lover of hot weather to be honest but in July, weather like this is depressing.
Simon, Stafford, UK

My roof got blown off this morning. My family have had to stay at my sister's house. People say these things come in threes, I just hope my house doesn't get looted. What a fine summer.
Chris, Hampshire

Lighten up people, it's just a bit of wind
Anon, Bucks, UK
I work for a traffic company and just before the storms hit there ensued a mad panic, but there is nothing out there on the roads apart from a few fallen branches. What is it with the British that the slightest deviant from normal causes immense panic? Lighten up people, it's just a bit of wind.
Anon, Bucks, UK

Our power went off at 10:45 and was still off at 19:00. Luckily we went out for my birthday meal and it was back on at 21:30 but it has been a huge problem all day as we are all electric.
Paul, Istead Rise near Gravesend, Kent

We have been without power since early afternoon. It wouldn't ordinarily be a problem if it wasn't such a common occurrence. We have several power cuts a year, normally with no explanation. In the 21st century this simply shouldn't happen. They know there are trees, they know there are going to be storms but they make no attempt to cut them back until it's too late.
David, Kent

A normal train journey to work today became delayed for 1.5 hours after it hit a fallen tree just outside Ascot station. Whilst in motion, yet after the brakes had been applied, the driver emerged from his cab to reassuringly tell us 'we are about to hit a tree'. Nobody was injured but if the driver had not made his exit, he could have been impaled on the branch that smashed through the front window!
Mark, Camberley, UK




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The BBC's Kim Barnes
"There is no immediate end to the bad weather in sight"



SEE ALSO:
Rain scuppers outdoor opera plan
07 Jul 04 |  Entertainment
Poor weather closes flower show
07 Jul 04 |  London


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