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Storm to hit rush hour commuters

Source BBC News@

Matt Taylor has more on what we can expect from Monday's storm and the areas most likely to be affected by strong winds and heavy rain.

Rail services across much of southern Britain have been cancelled for the morning rush hour as a storm continues to batter parts of England and Wales.

Motorists planning to travel between South Wales and England have been warned the Severn crossings, the M4 and M48 will be closed in both directions.

Air travel is also disrupted with 60 flight cancellations at Heathrow.

The Met Office said a gust of 92mph (148km/h) was recorded at Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight, at 01:00 GMT.

Meanwhile the Environment Agency has issued eight flood warnings - all in south west England - and 144 flood alerts across England and Wales.

Robin Gisby, network operations managing director for Network Rail, said commuters should expect considerable disruption on Monday morning.

"This will impact up to Birmingham and up to Nottingham and the Midlands. If we get through this in the morning, restore the service during the afternoon and are able to start up a good service on Tuesday morning, in the circumstances I'll be pretty pleased," he said.

The Highways Agency in England, Traffic Wales, Gwent Police and Avon and Somerset Police said the decision to close the second Severn Crossing, the M4, at 03:00 GMT had been taken because very high winds were expected to peak at 04:00 GMT.

The decision will be kept under review so the M4 crossing is reopened as soon as it is safe, they said. The M48 suspension bridge has been closed since Sunday evening.

Travel warnings include:

  • South West Trains have advised people not to travel on Monday with most services not running until at least 08:00 GMT to allow Network Rail to check lines. A reduced timetable will be in operation, with some trains limited to speeds of 50mph

  • East Coast will operate a revised emergency timetable on Monday, with trains stopping at Peterborough until 10:00 GMT, and limited to speeds of 50mph afterwards

  • First Great Western and Virgin West Coast main line are also running an amended service until 10:00 GMT and 09:00 GMT respectively

  • First Capital Connect and C2C said services are unlikely to begin until 09:00 GMT. Greater Anglia, Southern and Gatwick Express have said services on Monday will not run until it is declared safe to do so

  • London Overground will not run a service on Monday before 09:00 GMT, while First Great Western has warned of extended travelling times and Southeastern said it is likely to start running services late

  • Airports including Heathrow and Gatwick are warning of possible disruption to flights, advising passengers to check with airlines

  • Airlines operating in and out of Heathrow have been instructed to reduce their schedules by between 5% and 20% between the hours of 06:00 GMT and 22:30 GMT, leading to about 60 flight cancellations. It is not yet clear how many of those will be short-haul or long-haul flights

  • EasyJet has warned passengers there could be disruption to flights on Monday. It said no trains would run to Gatwick, Southend, Stansted or Luton airports before 09:00 GMT

  • Eurostar said it will not be running trains on Monday until 07:00 GMT, with early services from London and Brussels subject to delays. It expects to run a full service after 07:00 GMT and passengers are advised to arrive at the scheduled time

  • Several ferry companies have also cancelled services, including some English Channel and Irish Sea crossings

  • Several bridges including the M48 Severn Crossing, the A249 Sheppey Crossing in Kent, the Tamar Bridge which joins Cornwall and Devon and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge on the M25 are closed

  • The Highways Agency is advising motorists to check the weather forecast and road conditions before they travel

A kite surfer braved the waves crashing into Newquay, Cornwall.A kite surfer braved the waves crashing into Newquay, Cornwall

Rail passengers at Euston station looking at signs Rail passengers have been advised services on Monday will be disrupted

Will Brewer, 4, plays in the foam washed ashore on the Brighton seafront Four-year-old Will Brewer played in the foam washed ashore in Brighton as high winds picked up

Coast at Porthleven, CornwallWaves beat the shore at Porthleven in Cornwall. HM Coastguard has warned people to take extra care on cliffs ahead of what is forecast to be a "major Atlantic storm"

In other developments:

Forecasters said exposed coasts in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent could face the strongest winds.

BBC Weather presenter Jay Wynne said gusts along the south coast were already in the region of 50-60mph and there was some heavy rain spreading up through the south west and southern counties of England and the south of Wales.

The strongest winds are expected in the early hours of Monday as the storm tracks its way across the southern part of the UK but should have moved across the country to the North Sea by lunchtime.

The Metropolitan Police is urging people to use its 101 number during the storm rather than 999, unless there is a "genuine" emergency.

Wind speeds of 115 mph were recorded during the so-called Great Storm of October 1987.

There is more information about the forecasts for Sunday and Monday on the BBC Weather, Met Office and Environment Agency websites. See BBC Travel News for up to date travel information and the Highways Agency and Traffic Wales websites for details about road conditions. BBC Local has information from your area.

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