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Britain braces for worst storm in a decade

Large waves break against barriers on the seafront in Brighton, southern England on October 27, 2013 as a predicted storm starts to build/AFP

Large waves break against barriers on the seafront in Brighton, southern England on October 27, 2013 as a predicted storm starts to build/AFP

LONDON, Oct 28 – Britain faced travel chaos on Monday and more than 10,000 homes were without electricity in northwestern France as a massive storm swept in from the Atlantic Ocean.

Britain’s national weather centre the Met Office warned of falling trees, damage to buildings and disruption to power supplies and transport as the storm hit England’s southwest coast late on Sunday.

Between 20 and 40 millimetres (0.8 to 1.6 inches) of rain were predicted to fall within six to nine hours as the storm tracked eastwards across Britain, with a chance of localised flooding.

It will be followed by widespread gusts of 60 to 70 miles (97 to 113 kilometres) an hour across southern England and south Wales on Monday, with winds reaching more than 80 miles (130 kilometres) an hour in some areas, forecasters say.

The Met Office issued an “amber” wind warning for the region, the third highest in a four-level scale, and urged people to delay their Monday morning journeys to work to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

In northwest France more than 10,000 homes were without electricity early Monday after wind gusts reached 133 kilometres (83 miles) in some areas knocking down power lines but no major damage or injury were reported.

London looked set for a chaotic rush-hour after train companies First Capital Connect, C2C, Greater Anglia, Southern and Gatwick Express services all said they would not run services on Monday until it was safe to do so. That is unlikely to be before 9am (0900 GMT), according to forecasts.

Robin Gisby from line operator Network Rail warned commuters to expect severe disruption.

“If we get through this in the morning, restore the service during the afternoon and are able to start up a good service on Tuesday morning, in the circumstances I’ll be pretty pleased,” he added.

Major airports also warned of disruption to flights with London hub Heathrow expecting approximately 30 cancellations.

Cross-channel train service Eurostar said it would not be running trains on Monday until 7am, meaning delays to early services.

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Several ferry operators said they had cancelled some cross-Channel services and Irish Sea crossings.

Meanwhile, the rough conditions led to rescuers standing down the search for a 14-year-old boy who was washed out to sea from a beach in East Sussex on England’s south coast.

Britain last experienced similar wind strengths in March 2008, but forecaster Helen Chivers told AFP the expected damage was more comparable with a storm seen in October 2002.

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