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Travel disruption as high winds and snow hit UK

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Sandy Elliott

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A tree came down in East Grinstead, West Sussex, damaging a car.

Severe gales have been causing disruption to much of the UK – with gusts of up to 83 mph (134 kph).

Police in several areas, including Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Gloucestershire, have reported fallen trees on or near roads.

Damage to overhead electric wires is causing problems for train services in the Midlands, and drivers are being warned to take extra care on the roads.

In East Anglia and south east England more than 59,000 homes have lost power.

In Scotland, police are urging motorists to drive with “extreme caution” in the wintry conditions.

Until 05:00 GMT, drivers in Scotland and northern England were being warned not to travel at all, the first such warning issued since high winds in January 2013.

Police Scotland has since downgraded that warning. Supt Calum Glenny said the weather had not been as severe as was first forecast and thanked the “significant number” of drivers who heeded the warning to stay off the roads.

But while wind speeds have already started to drop, forecasters said the wintry conditions would continue in north western parts.

A new yellow warning of snow and ice is in place for Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England from 11:00 GMT on Thursday until 23:55 GMT on Friday.

The Met Office warned of travel delays and power cuts, saying some rural communities may become cut off.

Train hits tree

Rail commuters are facing delays in London, Wales, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. In Sydenham, south east London, a train has hit a tree.

National Rail said high winds had damaged overhead power lines between Stowmarket and Norwich, blocking the line between Norwich and London Liverpool Street.

Fallen trees have also affected services between Southampton and Fareham, Aylesbury and Harrow-on-the Hill and Aldershot and Alton.

Trees have also blocked roads and damaged cars.

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A workman tackles a fallen tree in Tufnell Park, north London

The QE2 Bridge at the Dartford Crossing was closed overnight but has now reopened.

In Suffolk, the Orwell Bridge on the A14 was shut until 09:00 GMT due to high winds.

In mid-Wales a trainline was closed after a freight train hit two sheds which had been blown onto the track by high winds overnight.

A brick gable was blown off a house in the Stoke Heath area of Coventry overnight but West Midlands Fire Service said no one was injured.

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A firefighter inspects a building damaged by wind in Coventry

Police in Lincolnshire appealed to the public to help remove more than 80 trees blown down overnight.

The force said: “If you have the equipment and relevant training to help with moving these trees, please call 101 if you are willing to assist us.”

A number of vehicles – including jacknifed lorries – got stuck on the A75 Euroroute in the Dumfries and Gatehouse of Fleet area of Scotland on Wednesday night but it was fully reopened by morning.

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The A75 became blocked by jacknifed lorries at a number of points including Gatehouse of Fleet

Scottish Borders Council said no schools would open on Thursday, affecting 15,000 pupils.

About 200 schools across Scotland closed on Wednesday.

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