Severe weather buffets Suffolk

GUSTS of nearly 80 miles per hour were expected to batter Suffolk today as Britain braced itself for severe weather.The winds were expected to reach their worst in Suffolk at about 9am, with gusts of 78mph forecast in Felixstowe and 76mph in Ipswich.

GUSTS of nearly 80 miles per hour were expected to batter Suffolk today as Britain braced itself for severe weather.

The winds were expected to reach their worst in Suffolk at about 9am, with gusts of 78mph forecast in Felixstowe and 76mph in Ipswich.

The Met has issued a severe weather warning for the East of England but the forecasters said Suffolk could escape the worst of the storms.

Gales have already brought down trees in Elmswell, Lakenheath and Lowestoft this morning, Suffolk police said.

Wind speeds are expected to be 47mph in Ipswich and 48mph in Felixstowe at 9am although gusts will blow much faster.

Gusts will drop to around 50mph in Ipswich and Felixstowe by noon, forecasters said, before rising to 68mph in Ipswich and 69mph in Felixstowe, the Met Office said.

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Gust speeds are higher because gusts only last for a few seconds while wind speeds, which are normally, are the average speed expected over an hour at a Met Office recording station.

Temperatures should stay at about 7 degrees Celsius in both towns for much of the day.

The bad weather is caused by an intense low pressure system moving east across the country.

A Met Office spokesman said: “Southerly winds are expected to strengthen during the early hours of Monday to give severe gales for a time, coinciding with the morning rush hour in some areas.

“An additional swathe of severe westerly gales will follow through the morning and afternoon, principally affecting southwest England and the south coast of England.

“Disruption to transport and power supplies is possible and there may be damage to buildings and trees. In addition high waves and flooding may affect coastal areas in the south.”

Elsewhere in Britain the highest recorded winds so far are 82mph in Berry Head in Brixham, south Devon, while the Needles off the coast of the Isle of Wight experienced gusts of 70mph.

Thousands of people in the West Country and South Wales woke up to find they were without power today.

A spokesman for Western Power Distribution (WPD) said there were 5,500 homes without electricity across the region after falling trees crashed through power lines.

About 1,000 homes have bee reconnected already after engineers were called out.

And the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has urged people to stay away from coastal areas for fear they will be swept away amid gale-force winds, rain and hailstones.

A spokesman for Thames Coastguard in Walton-on-the-Naze said he expected sailors and fishermen to be professional but said there was a possibility that the winds could pose a danger to people watching what happens on local waterfronts.

Have you been affected by the high winds? Send in your pictures of storm damage near you. E-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

How the storms have affected the country:

A tanker with 13 crew on board was in trouble off the Isle of Wight in the stormy conditions.

The Swedish vessel, bound for Fawley, Hampshire, was dragging anchor off the coast near Bembridge.

Last night Gordon Brown held a crisis telephone conference with officials from the Environment Agency, the Met Office and government departments, as well as the emergency services and Armed Forces, to discuss the storm.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “They got the latest updates from the Met Office and Environment Agency and looked at the planned response to the incoming weather, the potential effect on critical national infrastructure and the contingencies in place to deal with the effects of the storm.

“The Prime Minister listened in on the call and made a couple of points.”

The Met Office has severe weather warnings in place for most of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and central Scotland.

British Airways cancelled several short-haul and domestic flights out of Heathrow Airport last night, and both Heathrow and Gatwick advised travellers to check with airlines before leaving home.

In Wales police advised people living at Lighthouse Park Caravan Site in St Brides, Newport, and residents of about 12 coastal homes in nearby Gold Cliff and Redwick were told to evacuate because of potential flooding and structural damage.