Flying debris, power cuts and 70mph winds could threaten last-minute Christmas getaway journeys

UK

Flying debris and power cuts threaten to disrupt last-minute getaway plans as forecasters warn of strong winds on Christmas Eve.

Millions are expected on the roads today, with the AA warning of “lengthy jams”, while some rail services will likely be delayed as London’s King’s Cross and Paddington stations shut for engineering works.

No mainline trains will serve Heathrow Airport until Wednesday and the Port of Dover grappled with long waiting times of 90 minutes on Saturday after a surge in demand.

The expected disruption to travel plans could get even worse as gusts of up to 70mph will hit much of Scotland and parts of northern and central areas of England.

Two separate yellow wind warnings are in place by the Met Office, warning of damage to buildings and power cuts, while showers could dampen the rest of the country.

Forecaster Jonathan Vautrey said: “Obviously there will be quite a lot of people travelling and wanting to get home for Christmas itself.

“Particularly with these strong winds we could see some flying debris thrown on to particular roads or railway services, so if you get a tree down then that’s going to cause cancellations and delays.

“There’s the potential for isolated power cuts which will again lead to the risk of some disruption at times.

“If you’ve got a particular train that you’re catching make sure you’re looking ahead of time if there have been any cancellations.

“Just make sure you’re driving carefully, there’s the potential that high-sided vehicles could get hit by strong gusts of wind which has the potential to cause impacts, so we might see bridges closing as well.”

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King's Cross station will be closed
Image:
King’s Cross station will be closed

Motorists have been advised by the RAC to travel before 11am or after 6pm to reduce the chance of being stuck in long queues.

Eurostar, which operates rail services to and from London St Pancras, is running two extra trains per day between London and Paris – including on Christmas Eve – to help people whose trains were cancelled on Thursday.

Vehicle-carrying train service Le Shuttle is running its usual timetable, but is only accepting customers who have pre-booked.

A mild Christmas Day

Travellers won’t have to contend with snow, however, with snowfall on 25 December limited to mountains in Scotland and meteorologist Liam Eslick concluding it is “not looking likely… there will be a white Christmas in England”.

He added Christmas Day is expected to be much milder than usual, with a potential top temperature of 14C – far higher than the December average of between 7C and 8C.

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The warmest Christmas Day on record was 15.6C in 1920, so there is a “small chance” of it being a record, Mr Eslick added.

Most of the country will be damp on Monday, with heavy rain possible in Wales, though it is expected to brighten up after lunchtime.

A yellow warning for rain is in force covering much of Wales, with forecasters warning that flooding and travel disruption is possible, and will last until 6pm on Christmas Eve.

Between 20mm to 40mm of rain is expected widely and 60mm to 80mm on higher ground.

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