UK weather: Two dead, 100,000 homes without power and biggest tidal surge in 60 years threatens east coast
A lorry driver has died after his HGV was blown over in Scotland and a second man has been killed by a falling tree in a park in Nottingham. 10,000 homes on the east coast of England are now being evacuated in preparation for the surge
Two people have been killed as the country is battered by winds of up to 140mph, prompting the evacuation of over 10,000 homes.
A man was killed in Retford, Nottinghamshire, after he was struck by a falling tree in a park, and a lorry driver died when his HGV was blown on top of a number of cars in West Lothian, Scotland.
Four more people were also injured when the lorry overturned on the A801 one mile north of Boghead Roundabout, Bathgate, West Lothian, at around 8.10am.
The biggest tidal surge for over 60 years now threatens to flood the east coast of England, as the terrible weather continues throughout today and tomorrow.
Around 100,000 homes are without power in Scotland. The fire service in the east of Scotland said it dealt with 63 incidents this morning, included five road accidents and two reports of trees falling on vehicles.
In the east, areas of the North Sea coast from Northumberland right down to the Thames Estuary and Kent could be flooded.
More than 10,000 homes in Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk are being evacuated in preparation for the worst as the tidal surge is anticipated to hit this evening and through the night.
The Environment Agency (EA) has issued over 40 sever flood warnings - its highest category, warning of danger to life - with thousands of properties expected to suffer from flooding in the next 24 hours.
EA spokesman Peter Fox said: “The most important thing is that along the east coast (of England) the high tide will be hitting in the hours of darkness this evening and tonight, so people really need to take the daylight hours today to prepare for the coastal and tidal flooding that we are predicting.”
9000 houses are being evacuated in Norfolk, where holiday home owners are said to be heading to the coast to secure their properties.
Parts of the seaside town of Jaywick, near Clacton, in Essex are also being evacuated, as is the sleepy town of Southwold, Suffolk, where the surge is expected to hit around midnight.
An additional 200 plus flood warnings and alerts are currently in place across England.
On the west coast, severe gales and large waves combined with high water levels are expected from Cumbria to Cheshire.
The Thames Barrier was closed last night to protect London, and other defences have been activated at Colne in Essex and in Hull.
The extreme weather has also caused problems at Scottish airports. An easyJet flight from London Gatwick was forced to pull out of two attempted landings - one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh - before being diverted to Manchester.
In Leeds, the road past the tallest building in Yorkshire - Bridgewater Place tower - has been shut after predictions that wind speeds in the area could reach 75mph.
The Environment Secretary chaired a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee in order to discuss a response to the storms earlier today.
Mr Paterson told BBC News: “The purpose of the meeting was to make sure that all of the preparations - which we have well in advance - will work together to benefit the public.
“In some areas of Norfolk, where evacuations have commenced, I would urge everybody to work closely and to cooperate with the local authorities.”
Parts of the Scottish rail network are now beginning to reopen following a full closure this morning.
Dr Paul Leinster, chief executive of the EA, said last night: "Gale force winds and large waves along the east coast of England are forecast during Thursday and Friday, coinciding with high tides and a significant coastal surge.
"The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the emergency services, Met Office and local authorities."