Wind speeds have broken August records in parts of England and Wales as Storm Francis batters the UK with strong gusts and heavy rain.
Homes have been flooded, trees have fallen, rail lines blocked and campers rescued, with forecasters warning of disruption to transport, power cuts and potential flying debris that could lead to “injuries or danger to life”.
The Met Office issued an amber warning for very strong winds across most of Wales and central England between 2pm and 10pm on Tuesday, with gusts of up to 65mph felt inland.
A number of places in England and Wales have seen their highest ever gusts of wind provisionally recorded in August.
The Met Office said gusts of 74mph have been recorded at Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, Wales – the highest August gust in this location since 1994.
Aberdaron in the Welsh county of Gwynedd has recorded gusts of 71mph, the highest since August 1996.
Gusts of 68mph were recorded at Pembrey Sands, 52mph was recorded at Shobdon in Herefordshire, and 49mph was recorded at Pershore in Worcestershire – all August highs for these locations.
Emergency services have warned the public to take extra care in the stormy conditions across the UK, particularly along the coast.
The fire service in Northern Ireland said 37 people were rescued from flood water.
Elderly residents had to be rescued from the South Down coastal resort town of Newcastle after a river burst its banks, and in Draperstown, Co Londonderry, rescuers had to save nine people from inside a house, along with four outside who were trying to help.
A boat was used to help residents in Newcastle, a picturesque east coast town on the edge of the Mourne Mountains.
Up to 300 homes have been affected and streets left under three or four feet of water, a local representative said.
The Met Office said some of the highest UK rainfall totals were recorded in Northern Ireland, with Lough Fea seeing 55mm, Killylane seeing 44.4mm and Ballypatrick seeing 43.8mm.
South Wales Police said they were involved in two separate water searches from the swollen River Taff and fire crews had to rescue holidaymakers from a flooded campsite in the town of St Clears, Carmarthenshire, after river levels rose in the area.
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said nine people and two dogs were rescued by fire service personnel using a swift rescue sledge, lines and wading gear.
Crews also gave medical treatment to one man and evacuated 30 other people from a flooded caravan site in Wiseman’s Bridge, Narberth, while 12 caravans were also removed from the site.
A number of homes in Wales were also said to have been hit by flooding in Llanelli, Neath, Whitland and Tonyrefail, while some roads across the country were left underwater.
Elsewhere, travellers were warned of flooding disrupting rail services and trees blocking roads on Tuesday morning.
According to the Met Office, gusts of 67mph were recorded at the Isles of Scilly between 8am and 9am on Tuesday morning, while they reached 73mph at the Needles on the Isle of Wight in the same period.
Three Met Office yellow weather warnings of heavy rain or strong winds cover most of the UK on Tuesday, with stormy conditions expected to last until Wednesday morning.
Warnings of rain cover Northern Ireland, southern Scotland, northern England and parts of North Wales.
The M48 bridge across the River Severn has been closed in both directions due to the increased wind speeds.
At Neath in South Wales, flooding caused lines to be closed for part of the morning, with knock-on delays of up to 60 minutes.
Flooding on the line between Fernhill and Aberdare, also in South Wales, triggered a suspension to services.
In Northern Ireland, police reported an incident of a river bursting its banks near Newcastle, as well as roads blocked by flooding, a fallen tree and downed power line.
As of midday on Tuesday, the Environment Agency had issued 22 flood alerts for England, largely in the South West and West Midlands.
Natural Resources Wales had put out three flood warnings – advising immediate action – and 17 flood alerts for rivers across the south west.
RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said that until the middle of Wednesday, drivers need to brace themselves for some “very unpleasant” conditions on the roads.
“An amber weather warning covering a swathe of western Britain means there is a real risk of disruption to journeys from flying debris such as tree branches. Surface spray and perhaps some localised flooding are also possible,” he said.
The Met Office has never had two named storms in August since the process started in 2015, but Francis comes on the back of Ellen, which struck last week and caused power outages.