A kayaker is feared dead after gusts of up to 105mph (170km/h) from Storm Katie hit parts of Britain on Easter Monday. Winds and heavy rain brought disruption to rail, road, air and sea networks in England and Wales and tens of thousands of households have also been left without electricity.
Police in Surrey began a search operation for the unidentified man whose kayak capsized in the river Wey, which the Environment Agency warned on Sunday night was at risk of flooding. Officers were called to the scene around 1pm on Monday.
“We have a large number of officers out looking for this man alongside a number of fire crews. The man was spotted in the water by several members of the public and was clearly in difficulty due to the extremely strong current. We are doing everything we can to try and find him,” said Ch Insp Dave Mason.
London fire brigade said it had dealt with more than 110 incidents related to Storm Katie, including fallen trees and precarious scaffolding. In Greenwich, south-east London, a road was closed after a crane collapsed.
Southern Electric Power Distribution, which covers central southern England, said about 42,000 customers had lost power, including more than 28,000 in West Sussex. It said it had had to contend with average winds of 80mph, that it had more than 900 engineering, technical and support staff on duty and that it had restored power to 40,300 customers since Sunday night.
At 8am UK Power Networks, which covers the south-east and east of England, said 19,000 customers had lost electricity. A statement posted on its website just before 10am said it had “already remotely restored the majority of power supplies affected”.
A tree that fell during the storm lies across a car in Brighton Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images
On Monday the highest wind speed â€“ of 105mph â€“ was recorded on the exposed Isle of Wight, the Met Office said. It issued amber warnings for London and the south-east. Gusts reached 70-80mph along the south coast. While they were starting to die down later on Monday morning, winds of 60mph-70mph were recorded in East Anglia and they were still reaching 50mph-60mph on the south coast.
The Environment Agency issued 28 flood warnings, indicating that flooding is expected and immediate action required â€“ 18 of them in the south-east. Warnings were also in place in the Midlands, south-west and north-east of England. There were also 143 flood alerts, indicating possible flooding, mainly in the south-east, the south-west and Midlands.
Just after 6pm Heathrow airport said strong winds and heavy rainfall had led to the cancellation of 94 arrivals and departures, and the diversion of 20 flights to other airports.
The Port of Dover briefly suspended shipping and a number of trains were delayed, cancelled or replaced by buses because of obstructions on the line or flooding.
Four flights scheduled to land at Gatwick’s north terminal between 2am and 2.55am were listed as diverted on the airport’s website.
Scaffolding that collapsed in Woodley, Reading Photograph: @Footballparky/PA
Highways England issued a severe weather alert for the south-west, south-east and eastern regions, warning drivers of high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and other vulnerable vehicles to take extra care when travelling due to the increased risk of vehicles being blown over.
The Dartford river crossing and M48 Severn bridge were closed on Sunday night because of strong winds.
Those travelling back from breaks across the country were advised to be careful on the roads and if possible to delay their journeys until Monday afternoon.
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Heavy rain forced the closure of the M6 northbound between junctions 13 and 14 on Monday morning, as well as the sliproad to junction 2 of the M56 leading towards the M60 Manchester ring road.
In South Yorkshire trains were delayed between Sheffield and Kiveton Bridge because of flooding on the track. All trains between Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly were cancelled owing to track damage at Crewe station, with trains terminating instead at Alderley Edge and Sandbach.
Met Office meteorologist Mark Wilson said: “By the early part of the afternoon [Storm Katie] should have moved its way into the North Sea with lighter winds and much more in the way of sunshine [in its stead]. Tomorrow will not be much warmer but much calmer and it will remain so throughout the rest of the week.”
Northern Ireland and Scotland were expected to be largely unaffected, with a much quieter and bright, if showery, Easter Monday in store.