‘Danger to life’ warning as Storm Hector batters Britain with 75mph winds

Storm Hector is battering parts of Britain with heavy rain and fierce 75mph winds that have brought down trees and caused severe disruption for travellers.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and northern England are bearing the brunt of the wild weather.

A yellow warning is in place until at least 3pm on Thursday as the Met Office warns of flying debris, life-threatening waves, power cuts, property damage, coastal flooding and longer journey times.

Police have urged drivers and pedestrians of dangerous conditions on the roads, with many blocked by trees or debris including signs, garden furniture and trampolines.

ScotRail said "chainsaw gangs" and overhead line teams have been deployed across the rail network to remove fallen trees and branches that are causing delays and cancellations to services.

Areas affected include Stirling, Partick, Ayrshire and North Lanarkshire.

The rail firm posted a photo on its Twitter account showing a tree blocking the line at Kirkwood.

Overhead wire damage between Carlisle and Penrith was disrupting journeys from Glasgow and Edinburgh on the West Coast Main Line.

Residents in Peebles, Scottish Borders, said fallen trees were blocking both routes into the town from the east after Hector hit overnight.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said Western and Northern Isles ferries have also bit affected by wind from the low pressure system.

He tweeted: "As predicted a fair bit of travel disruption due to high winds as Storm Hector makes his presence felt – particularly on ferries & rail."

Great Western Road in Glasgow was closed for a time due to a fallen tree while the Erskine Bridge and Clyde Expressway were also affected. Pollokshaws Road in Glasgow was reduced to one lane due to a dangerous building in the strong winds.

The Forth Road Bridge was closed to double-decker buses and only cars are being allowed to cross the Tay Bridge.

Planes were hit by strong winds during take-offs and landings, but no major delays were reported.

Still, airline passengers were told to check their flight’s status before heading to the airport.

In Northern Ireland, severe gales of up to 75mph cut power to about 7,000 homes and businesses, and stopped the Eclipse and Nautica cruise ships from docking in Belfast.

A gust of 74mph at Orlock Head was the strongest gust ever recorded in Northern Ireland in June.

In northern England, Cumbria Roads police warned: "Storm Hector’s here making driving conditions difficult across the county, especially in open areas. Take care all and adjust your driving accordingly."

Cheshire Police tweeted a photo showing tree branches that fell on a road, writing: "Take extra care if you are out and about today as Storm Hector will bring strong winds through the region and there is already lots of fallen debris on the roads."

Flood warnings were issued for four areas on Scotland’s west coast – Ayr to Troon, Loch Ryan, and Inner and Outer Wigtown Bay.

Eight flood alerts were in place along England’s north-west coast, while tidal flooding was possible along the North Wales coast from the Dee estuary to the east coast of Anglesey.

Huge waves crashed into the sea defences at Aberystwyth in West Wales.

Animals were also feeling the storm’s wrath.

A photo taken by Alison O’Neill showed one of her sheep stood in a wooden bus shelter as it sought refuge from the rain at her farm in Garsdale, Cumbria.

Winds should gradually ease from the west through the afternoon as temperatures stay in the mid teens. Parts of western Scotland were expected to see the heaviest rainfall.

Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said: "Scotland and northern England will see that swathe of strong winds move eastwards through the day.

"The wettest weather will be out of the way but there will be some blustery showers following and with the yellow warning in force disruption is possible.

"Further spells of rain will push their way into Scotland through the night before clearer skies open out by the start of Friday."

Conditions were also breezy in Wales and the south of England, where temperatures were expected to climb into the twenties with some sunshine.

Hector is the eighth storm named by the Met Office or Ireland’s Met Éireann during the 2017-18 season, and the first since Georgina on January 24.

The next named storms will be Iona and James.

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