Man dies as rain, gales and hail batter UK

Thousands of homes without power and trains disrupted by bad weather as Christmas getaway begins

LAST UPDATED AT 15:00 ON Mon 23 Dec 2013

A MAN has died in a pile-up in Cornwall after a "freak hail storm" struck traffic on the A30, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The death of the man was the first and only fatality on a day that saw the UK lashed by torrential rain and winds gusting at more than 80mph. More than 3,000 homes and businesses in Cornwall are without power , the Telegraph says, and many rail services have been disrupted or cancelled.

So far, no flights have been cancelled, but that could change as the storms develop.

The powerful winds brought down trees and power lines across the country. A tree that fell across the rail tracks about half a mile from Kings Cross station halted all domestic trains this afternoon and there were reports a child had been struck by a falling tree in Horsham, West Sussex.

There are reports that police are searching for a man who is believed to have fallen into the swollen River Rothay in the Lake District.

With heavy rain and strong winds expected to continue tomorrow the Christmas travel plans of thousands of Britons are certain to be disrupted.

The deteriorating weather conditions have also shortened the odds on a white Christmas in several parts of the UK. Bookmakers are offering 2/1 odds of snow in cities including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester and 4/1 odds of snow in Dublin and Belfast. The odds of a white Christmas in London have shortened to 5/1.

Met Office forecaster Calum MacColl, told the Guardian: "There is scope for very heavy rain, potentially some localised flooding, and strong winds in some areas so there is a risk of travel disruption.

"[Monday] will start quite nicely in some places, but there will soon be heavy outbreaks of rain in the south-west of England and south Wales. That will quickly move into the north-east, and will bring gales with it."

Network Rail warned yesterday that the deteriorating conditions would disrupt services in England, Wales and Scotland. People are being advised to check for updates before they travel to a station to catch a train.

Meanwhile, the Highways Agency has issued an amber (be prepared) alert in the east, south-east and south-west of England, urging drivers of high-sided vehicles including caravans to stay clear of several main getaway routes. John McTaggart, of the Highways Agency, said: "Road users are urged to check traffic and weather conditions before setting out on journeys and to heed any advice such as speed restrictions once they are on the strategic road network."

The weather conditions have revived predictions of a white Christmas and triggered a surge in betting on a seasonal sprinkling of the white stuff. Bookmaker William Hill has halved its odds on snow in London over Christmas to 5/1. · 

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