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Storm Imogen batters southwest UK with 90mph winds and driving rain

IofwSouthwest England and the southern coast of Wales are being battered by gale-force winds and driving rain. Storm Imogen hit the region a few hours ago and the Met Office says commuters and travellers can expect their journeys to be seriously disrupted today.

Craig Snell, a Met Office forecaster, says winds of up to 90mph have already caused some problems for ferry, bus and train operators. Another problem is uprooted trees which have brought down power lines and blocked roads.

Wind speeds off the coast of the Isle of Wight have been measured at 96mph. At Portland in Dorset, the wind speed has topped 69mph while on the Bristol Channel it was almost 75mph. The Met Office has issued amber wind and flooding warnings for the region. Sixty of these are in place plus 200 lower level alerts saying that flooding is a possibility.

Brittany and P&O have both announced that their ferry services are running behind schedule, and in some cases cancelled, and cross-Channel travellers will face delays. High-sided vehicles have been temporarily barred from crossing the M48 Bridge over the River Severn. 

Drivers using the M4 or M5 motorways today have been urged to drive carefully and bear in mind that wind factors could have serious consequences when driving at speed. Arriva Trains Wales, Southern Railway, South West Trains and Great Western Railway have all released statements saying their trains will be operating at reduced speeds today.

Great Western says the weather will impact its services until around 18:00, although the other train companies say the speed restrictions will only apply to services until mid-afternoon. They say passengers can expect the restrictions to add an average 30 minutes on to their journeys.

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