Storm Gareth causes travel chaos as 75mph gales and heavy rain batter Britain

Storm Gareth is causing travel disruption for commuters and threatening to flood homes while battering Britain with 75mph gales and heavy rain.

Rail and road links across the country are affected as most of the UK remains under severe wind warnings issued by the Met Office.

Gusts of up to 75mph brought down trees, sent huge waves crashing against coastlines and threatened to damage homes, as heavy rain triggered dozens of flood warnings and alerts.

Commuters are facing longer journeys and closures during the morning rush with the wet and windy conditions affecting more than a dozen train companies.

Commuters using trains in Wales, Scotland, the north of England and East Anglia were warned that services could be disrupted by high winds during the morning rush hour, with speed restrictions in place across a wide area.

Trains between Durham and Newcastle were halted until at least 9am after overhead electric wires were damaged, impacting LNER, CrossCountry, Northern and Transpennine Express services.

Meanwhile, some Virgin Trains services between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston and some trains between Glasgow Central and Preston were cancelled.

Both carriageways of the Orwell Bridge on the A14, just south of Ipswich in Suffolk, will be closing at 7am until mid-afternoon due to high winds.

There were reports of trees blocking roads and some exposed routes in the north-east of England being closed to high-sided vehicles.

Racing at the Cheltenham Festival in Gloucestershire could also be affected.

At Cheltenham, punters were advised that organisers would be holding a precautionary inspection in the morning to assess conditions for racing.

The Met Office has issued two yellow warnings for high winds covering Northern Ireland, Wales, most of England and the west coast of Scotland.

Gusts of up to 75mph were recorded in Scotland on Tuesday night, while winds of over 60mph were seen widely across western parts of the UK in the early hours of Wednesday.

Met Office forecaster Alex Burhill said: "We’ve got some very strong winds. The strongest in the morning rush hour are probably going to be around Northern Ireland and also western coastal parts, particularly western Scotland and north-west England.

"Eastern areas might start getting some very strong winds by that point, but generally across much of the UK it’s going to be very windy this morning.

"People need to be aware that there could be some travel disruption because there could be delays to things like ferries and aircraft and also bridges may need to be closed."

Storm Gareth was moving out to the North Sea on Wednesday morning, but strong winds will be felt through the day.

The last of the weather warnings is set to expire at 3pm.

Heavy showers with some thunder are expected across the northern half of the UK as the storm moves across throughout the day.

Dozens of flood warnings and alerts have been issued by the Environment Agency in England, mainly affecting the west and north.

The wet and windy conditions will go on for at least a few more days.

Another band of rain and strong winds is expected to arrive from the west on Wednesday night, with coastal gales affecting the south and west overnight.

On Thursday, rain will be heavy at times on western hills with showers elsewhere.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for rain for Lancashire, North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire, where almost two inches (50mm) could fall.

The warning will be in place from 12.15am to 3pm.

Friday to Sunday will remain unsettled.

The heaviest rain is expected in the west, especially northwest England and west Wales.

Met Office five-day weather forecast

Wednesday

Very windy with blustery showers at first.

Showers and winds slowly easing through the day.

Turning cloudier from the west across parts of Northern Ireland and western Scotland with outbreaks of rain later.

Wednesday night

Clear spells in the east at first with any lingering showers fading.

Rain spreading from the west, heavy at times.

Turning windier with coastal gales in the south and west.

Thursday

Early rain, heavy at times on western hills, clearing southeastwards from most areas but perhaps lingering in the southwest.

Sunny spells and showers following.

Windy, though less so than recently.

Friday to Sunday

Remaining unsettled.

Heaviest rain in the west, especially northwest England and west Wales.

Strongest winds in the north on Friday, then central and southern parts on Saturday.

Showery on Sunday.

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