Storm Gareth’s strong gales and heavy rain have been causing disruption, with rail and road links across the country affected.
The Met Office has issued two yellow warnings for high winds covering Northern Ireland, Wales, most of England and the west coast of Scotland.
Gusts of up to 75mph were recorded in Scotland on Tuesday night, while winds of over 60mph were seen widely across western parts of the UK in the early hours of Wednesday.
The conditions were severe in Scotland, where three climbers died in an avalanche on Ben Nevis on Tuesday.
Six crew members were airlifted from a stricken French fishing boat off Lands End in “atrocious” 20ft waves and storm-force winds, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has said.
HM Coastguard was alerted at around 10pm on Tuesday night that La Fanette, a 79ft fishing vessel, had suffered engine failure.
Another fishing vessel went to help and a lifeboat was launched.
“Despite atrocious weather, Sennen Cove Lifeboat launched but due to 5-6 metre (16-20ft) waves on scene and storm force winds, it was impossible for either the fishing vessel or the lifeboat to establish a tow with La Fanette,” the MCA said.
“The six crew on board were airlifted from the fishing vessel by Newquay Coastguard Rescue Helicopter.”
Storm Gareth is expected to continue moving across the country throughout the day, gradually easing later on in the afternoon as the storm moves out to the North Sea.
Transport links were at risk of being impacted as the squally weather blows through – while racing at the Cheltenham Festival could also be affected.
Commuters using trains in Wales, Scotland, the north of England and East Anglia were warned that services could be disrupted by high winds during the morning rush hour, with speed restrictions in place across a wide area.
Trains between Durham and Newcastle were halted on Wednesday morning after overhead electric wires were damaged, impacting LNER, CrossCountry, Northern and Transpennine Express services.
Meanwhile, some Virgin Trains services between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston and some trains between Glasgow Central and Preston were cancelled.
There were also reports of trees blocking roads and some exposed routes in the north-east of England being closed to high-sided vehicles.
Met Office forecaster Alex Burhill said: “We’ve got some very strong winds. The strongest in the morning rush hour are probably going to be around Northern Ireland and also western coastal parts, particularly western Scotland and north-west England.
“Eastern areas might start getting some very strong winds by that point, but generally across much of the UK it’s going to be very windy this morning.
“People need to be aware that there could be some travel disruption because there could be delays to things like ferries and aircraft and also bridges may need to be closed.”
Heavy showers with some thunder were also expected across the northern half of the UK as the storm moves across throughout the day.
Dozens of flood alerts have been issued by the Environment Agency in England, including two warnings for the River Ouse at York.
Storm Gareth swept in across Northern Ireland on Tuesday, causing problems on the roads with fallen trees and the cancellation of ferries.
Met Eireann, the Irish Meteorological Service, also warned of “severe and damaging gusts” as the storm moved over the country.
The storm is expected to have moved out into the North Sea by Wednesday evening, although another band of wet and windy weather is expected to arrive from the west on Wednesday night.
Goats and emu escape due to Storm Gareth
Storm Gareth blew a herd of goats into a busy town centre – as strong winds drove them from their hillside. Dozens of the Kashmiri goats sought shelter on lower ground as they escaped the gusty gales and heavy rain.
The 122-strong herd usually live on the hilly grasslands of the Great Orme in Llandudno, north Wales, but moved into the town centre because of the bad weather.
The goats were seen crossing roads and holding up traffic and climbing into gardens to nibble on flowers.
A spokesman for Conwy Council said: “The goats come down to much lower ground because of the bad wet weather.”
Meanwhile in Kent, an emu went on the run after leaping over a fence when she got scared by high winds.
Owner Jan James said the bird, which can run at more than 30mph, said the female emu made a break for it on Tuesday.
Writing on Facebook, calling on locals on the Isle of Sheppey to look out for the 6ft-tall flightless bird, Jan wrote: “Please message me if you see our beautiful Emu. She’s jumped our perimeter fence as the high winds have freaked her out.
“She’s not dangerous, but please don’t chase or approach as she’s nervous of people she doesn’t know and will run even further away.
“She’s running around the fields that go down to the bird reserve and Leysdown beach. Hopefully she will come back on her own and jump back over but I would appreciate any sightings.”
Cheltenham Festival Ladies Day survives storm
The second day of the Cheltenham Festival – Ladies Day – will go ahead as planned aafter fears it could be called off due to Storm Gareth.
Organisers said Wednesday’s racing could be under threat “due to wind speeds of around 50mph, which might affect temporary structures at the racecourse”.
Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse said: “We wanted to give everyone an early insight into conditions for tomorrow as the forecast is looking challenging, with strong gusting winds throughout the day.
“We are continually monitoring the situation and will keep racegoers informed as the conditions present themselves.”
Ladies Day is traditionally one of the busiest and most popular days of the festival. The second day of the meet in 2008 was also called off due to stormy weather.
But 2019’s Ladies Day survived the weather when organisers confirmed the wind speeds had become more moderate and the health worries were therefore alleviated.
It is meant to be the first major meet of the spring season, but Cheltenham threatens to be somewhat of a washout this year.
Storm Gareth whipped strong winds and heavy rain across the racecourse on Tuesday morning.
The going was initially announced as being good to soft, but as the rain continued to hammer Gloucestershire, it was reclassified as soft before midday.
If you are considering having a flutter from the comfort of having a roof over your head, Betting Reporter Ross Clarke has your tips here.
Storm Gareth, in pictures
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