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01 March 2024

Severe gales batter Britain for third day

By Agencies

A third day of severe gales disrupted road and rail travel across the country and forced organisers to cancel day two of the Cheltenham horse racing festival on Wednesday.


The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for much of central and northern England, north Wales and Northern Ireland and said conditions were "extremely hazardous".


Heavy rain, snow showers and wind gusting at up to 80mph swept across the country early on Wednesday.


The second day of racing at Cheltenham was called off after strong winds damaged temporary buildings, making the course unsafe for the 55,000 spectators due to watch the races.


"We cannot guarantee the safety of the customers but the good news is we can stage all the races now over the next two days," said Cheltenham Managing Director Edward Gillespie.


Several lorries overturned in the early hours on the Thelwall Viaduct on the M6 west of Manchester, police said. None of the drivers was injured.


Strong winds closed the Runcorn-Widnes bridge in Cheshire to high-sided vehicles. There were long delays on roads across the northwest, the Highways Agency said.


In Manchester, a woman was taken to hospital after a lamppost fell on her car. She suffered whiplash and cuts and bruises.


In East Sussex, a tree fell onto an empty coach on the A26. The driver was unhurt.


Rail passengers faced delays after speed limits were imposed on the West Coast Main Line north of Rugby, Warwickshire, and on the East Coast Main Line north of Stevenage, Hertfordshire.


There were also severe delays on cross-Channel ferries and services were cancelled on Irish sea routes.


The Environment Agency had four flood warnings and 25 flood watch warnings in place.


On Monday, a storm brought down trees and power lines in southern England and Wales after sweeping in from the Atlantic.  (Reuters)