UK Weather: More Storms Coming After 'Brief Respite' From 100mph Gales
More strong winds are predicted to batter Britain again, after the brief respite from the 100mph gales which resulted in the deaths of two men.
Gusts of up to 75mph are forecast for England and Wales and will no doubt bring more travel chaos for the millions of people who have returned to work following the festive season.
One of the men killed was named by Kent Police as married father-of-three Christopher Hayes, 51, who died after a tree crushed his parked van in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Police said he was pronounced dead at the scene on Sandhurst Road at 12.25pm.
A spokesman said: "His van is believed to have been stationary at the time of the impact. A male passenger in the vehicle is not believed to have been injured."
Andy Ratcliffe, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Tonight we can expect gusts of up to 75mph across northern England and southern and western Scotland.
"There will be a band of heavy rain moving southwards across the UK. Following the rain it will turn clearer but with heavy showers.
"Tomorrow it's a day of sunshine and scattered showers.
"In the morning we could still see 70mph gusts, most likely across north-west England. Through the rest of the day the winds will ease."
The Met Office issued "yellow" warnings of rain for much of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, north-west England and Yorkshire and Humber from 9am today.
Trees fell on to railway tracks and power lines, lorries toppled over on busy roads and flood warnings were issued after rivers swelled on Wednesday.
High seas and rocky swells buffeted ferries and caused the Port of Dover to close, while gusts of wind damaged the roof of a stand at Epsom Downs racecourse in Surrey.
Also in Kent, the Port of Dover was forced to close between 10.30am and 1.20pm because of high seas.
A ferry named the Norman Spirit, run by the LD Lines Network, was rocked by waves around the harbour walls.
The P&O Ferries Dover-Dunkirk services suffered delays of up to 60 minutes, the Larne-Cairnryan crossings were suspended and ferry travel from the mainland to the Isle of Wight was also affected.
Further along the Channel, Falmouth Coastguard was contacted at 11.40am to reports that three crewmen needed to be medically evacuated from an Isle of Man-registered chemical tanker, a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokeswoman said.
A member of crew on board the tanker was killed after the vessel was hit by a large wave. The boat was 13 nautical miles off the coast of Eddystone Lighthouse, on the Devon/Cornwall border when the incident happened and the wind was measured as storm force 9 at the time, the spokeswoman added.
Pritchard-Gordon Tankers, the company which owns the tanker, would not name the Briton but said: "Two crew members sustained injuries when struck by a wave whilst on deck, and a third was injured on attempting to assist. All three were taken to hospital by helicopter rescue."
The other two casualties were then flown to Treliske Hospital in Truro with suspected fractured bones.
A top wind speed was recorded yesterday of 106mph at Great Dun Fell in the Cumbrian north Pennines, according to Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association.
Meanwhile the Met Office recorded a top wind speed of 102mph in Edinburgh.
The wind caused a horse racing meeting in Ayr to be called off, while Epsom racecourse was evacuated after part of the grandstand flew off.
Commuters faced misery as the bad weather meant some East Coast main line trains between London and Scotland had to start and terminate at Newcastle upon Tyne.
Buses replaced trains on some rail services between London and Harrogate and Hull, rail services across Kent were disrupted and drivers planning to use the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex faced delays on the M25 as the QEII bridge was closed for much of the day because of the wind.
The Environment Agency issued 20 flood warnings across the country yesterday, including 13 in the South West, three each in the Midlands and the North East, and one in Wales. It also issued 66 less severe flood alerts.
In Northern Ireland 10,000 properties were left without electricity after fallen trees and severe winds damaged power lines, causing hundreds of faults.
And power companies worked late into last night in Scotland to restore electricity to homes.