Yellow weather warning and floods set for the shortest day of the year today

Briton’s are bracing themselves for more gale-force winds and torrential downpours today as weather warnings are issued across the country.

Ninety-four flood warnings and 232 less severe flood alerts are in place across England this morning, and the Environment Agency said flood defences have been erected in a number of areas. 

This comes after terrified motorists were showered with debris, including fence panels, on the M25 near Chertsey, Surrey, after a tornado ripped through the town yesterday.  

Residents in Chertsey and Shepperton in Surrey saw a tornado pass through the area damaging property and downing trees. This image shows trees strewn across the road in Bittams Lane, Chertsey

Last night the Met Office issued a severe weather warning for southern England. Two weeks’ worth of rain was forecast to fall in 24 hours, causing even more flooding on saturated ground.

There were 96 flood warnings (meaning flooding is expected) and 235 flood alerts (meaning flooding is possible) in place across the country, including the Midlands, East and North-East.

Met Office forecaster Alex Burkill said: ‘It’s going to be very wet in southern parts as we go throughout the rest of today and into tomorrow.’

Although the rain is not particularly heavy for the time of year, he still expects it to cause some problems, particularly in areas that have received a soaking in recent weeks and months. 

Mr Burkill added: ‘Rainfall totals are only looking like 20-30mm, so not exceptional for the time of year, but because it’s been so wet this month and through the rest of autumn, there could be some flooding in these areas.

‘The roads within the warning area, there is a risk of seeing slow travel times.

‘It’s not looking too severe in terms of the weather but could be disruptive, mainly due to the number of people wanting to travel.’

Elsewhere, there is a risk of patchy fog in parts of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland, Mr Burkill said. 

Doug Wilson, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: ‘Environment Agency teams have put up temporary flood defences in a number of locations including Bradford on Avon, Leatherhead, Guildford and Canterbury.

‘Pumping continues at Saltmoor and Northmoor in Somerset to lower levels in the River Tone and the flood barrier at Leigh, in Kent, is operating.

‘Our flood information officers remain out on the ground in communities where there is a risk of flooding and staff are working around the clock to help keep people safe.’

According to the RAC, there are an estimated 5.6 million getaway trips planned for Monday and Tuesday.

The motoring body said the worst of the delays are expected on Sunday, with the M25 between the M23 and M40, and roads between Flitwick and Daventry thought to have the longest queues of up to 90 minutes. 

Tiles were lifted off roofs, cars damaged, sheds wrecked and trees uprooted. Families ran for cover as the whirlwind struck without warning at 10.30am. Within a minute it had caused tens of thousands of pounds damage in the town, ten miles from Heathrow Airport. Astonishingly, no one was injured.

Chertsey resident Philip Passey, 61, said: ‘There was this sudden huge roar and everything was flying around the garden. It was scary, I’ve never heard anything like it.

‘I was standing in the kitchen and suddenly the wind started up and I saw the leaves swirling – I thought, this isn’t right. Then the trampoline in the garden gets thrown against the house and the wind is making a huge noise. I saw my shed roof had gone and fence panels have been blown off.’

‘We couldn’t get out the front door, we had to cut our way out due to a fallen tree. It’s certainly put a dampener on Christmas.’

Another resident, Chris Thornton, told the Surrey Live website: ‘Out of nowhere there was this rushing noise that developed into a roaring noise. I looked out the window and there was rain going past horizontally and it only lasted for about a minute or so. I thought I better come out and have a look. It was just a scene of devastation.

‘It’s taken off a part of my roofing felt on the garage. The wind must have been circling – it’s as violent a wind as I have ever seen.’

Tracy Bramley said she was trapped in her car on her driveway as debris rained down on the vehicle, smashing a hole in the roof.

She said: ‘It all changed really quickly. It started to whip up. I could feel my car beginning to rock a bit. It just came a bit out of nowhere really.’

Terrified mother-of-two Pip Rickerby, 39, said: ‘It was absolutely mental. I actually feared for my life. I thought it was going to take my house like in the Wizard Of Oz. It was really heavy rain and we were about to take our dog Toto out. It was really frightening, like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. Like we weren’t in the UK.

‘My girls were screaming. If they were outside it would definitely have taken them away. It was fierce. At one point I thought it was going to take the house.’

Tim Readings, assistant group commander at Surrey Fire and Rescue, said: ‘There are in excess of 20 houses with damaged roofs and ten private cars that have been damaged by falling tiles.’ 

In Leatherhead, Surrey, there were fears that the River Mole would overflow and leave families homeless in a repeat of Christmas Eve six years ago. Indra Starnes, 57, and her husband Martin, 63, stayed up on Friday watching water levels rise around their cottage.

Trees strewn across the road in Bittams Lane, Chertsey after a tornado hit the area on Saturday morning

Trees strewn across the road in Bittams Lane, Chertsey after a tornado hit the area on Saturday morning

Mrs Starnes said: ‘I was thinking, ‘Here we go again.’ We’ve got the sandbags and flood barriers out and we got our three cats indoors out of harm’s way.’.

The River Darent in Eynsford, Kent, burst its banks and Little Venice Country Park and Marina in Yalding was severely flooded. The town of St Ives in Cambridgeshire was surrounded by rising water on Saturday morning after the River Great Ouse burst it banks.

And at Chelmsford, Essex, the severe flooding meant that canoeists were a more common sight than motorists.