Winds of more than 100mph battered Britain leaving an elderly man dead and leading to transport chaos across Yorkshire last night.
The Met Office had a ‘red’ weather warning in place for exceptionally strong winds in north-western parts of England and western parts of Wales, and the strongest gusts recorded across Yorkshire were 92mph at High Bradfield near Sheffield.
Gusts scattered debris and felled trees across roads and rail routes, flights were cancelled and some commuters were stuck in queues lasting hours on motorways on what has been dubbed ‘Wild Wednesday’.
Buildings were damaged including the roofs being blown off Selby train station and the swimming pool at Salendine Nook High School in Huddersfield where young swimmers were reportedly in the pool when the incident happened.
Gusts peaked at 108mph at Aberdaron in north west Wales, while 96mph winds were recorded off the south coast of England at the Needles, on the Isle of Wight.
Heavy rainfall compounded the problems in the South where the River Thames was predicted to rise to its highest level in more than 60 years in some places.
MeteoGroup said Capel Curig in North Wales had seen the UK’s highest rainfall with 35mm recorded from 6am to 6pm.
Many commuters faced another nightmare journey this morning after storms wrought chaos on the region’s transport systems.
One of the main routes into Leeds, the A660 Headingley Lane in Headingley, is closed in both directions between the Richmond Road junction and The Hyde Park Traffic Lights, because of a fallen tree.
Train services remain badly affected, with services cancelled despite Network Rail saying it had deployed teams of workers overnight to repair damage to overhead power lines.
The company advised passengers to delay the start of their journey at least until after 8am . It said disruption would continue “until further notice” on East Coast and Northern Rail trains between Leeds and Wakefield Westgate/Doncaster because of an overhead wire problem near Fitzwilliam.
East Coast, CrossCountry and First TransPennine Express services between Darlington and York may be delayed because of overhead wire problems between these stations. The line is blocked in one direction.
Last night the Bridgewater Place road junction in Leeds was shut to traffic from 5pm.
Pedestrians were told that they would also be directed away from the junction.
The council said the closure decision had been taken due to predicted wind speeds in Leeds city centre of up to 60mph.
Elsewhere, drivers and bus passengers on Headingley Lane faced mayhem due to a fallen tree between Richmond Avenue and Hyde Park Corner.
There were long delays on the M62 after a lorry overturned at Scammonden, near Huddersfield. And train services across the county were decimated, with none running at all to Ilkley or Skipton for much of the evening and delays on South Yorkshire lines around Barnsley.
In Morley, police were called after a container carrying furniture became separated from a lorry in Asquith Avenue.
There were also reports of power lines coming down near the Stansfield Arms pub in Apperley Bridge.
Flights from Leeds Bradford Airport to Southampton, Aberdeen and Glasgow were cancelled.
On the trains, overhead wire problems caused disruption to evening rush-hour services between Leeds and Ilkley.
Skating was suspended at the outdoor Ice Cube rink in Leeds city centre’s Millennium Square.
Gusts of nearly 80mph were reported at Emley Moor shortly after 6pm.
Fire chiefs in West Yorkshire appealed for people to secure items such as garden furniture and trampolines ahead of the weather onslaught.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s assistant chief fire officer Dave Walton said: “The public can do their bit to keep everyone safe by ensuring these items are stowed away or properly tied down in high winds.
“We have had incidents in the past where trampolines have been blocking roadways and it can cause traffic havoc.
“In high winds also please take that extra bit of care when driving and consider whether your journey really is essential.”
The Met Office issued an amber weather warning for Yorkshire and Humberside, saying: “The public should be prepared for the risk of disruption to transport and possibly also power supplies. In addition, large waves are likely to affect some coasts.”
Several accidents have been caused by the ‘wind-tunnel’ effect that can grip the area around the base of the Bridgewater Place skyscraper on stormy days.