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Biggest winter storm ever to wreck holidays for millions in UK
Hurricane-force gales and torrential downpours will lash the country at the start of Christmas week, just as 18 million people take to the roads to visit friends and family.
Even the 4.5 million planning to travel overseas will be caught in the ‘total nationwide disruption’ as airports, train stations and bus networks completely shut down at the busiest time of the year.
Frenzied storm systems are lined up to charge towards the UK from the Atlantic with warnings the resulting mayhem could last well into January.
Long-range forecasters said torrential downpours will set in this week bringing inches of rain in hours while 90mph winds threaten to devastate parts of the North with widespread blackouts likely.
The horrifying onslaught is expected to start as soon as the weekend as violent gales sweep southwards and torrential downpours bring the risk of flash floods.
Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said: “We could be looking at the stormiest Christmas in living memory as a succession of Atlantic depressions sweep across the UK.
“There is the risk of persistent gales which could reach 90mph in exposed parts of the North whole gusts of 60 to 80mph are likely elsewhere.
“There is also the risk of torrential downpours bringing up to two inches of rain in localised areas triggering the risk of floods.
“This looks likely to continue into the New Year and possibly into the second week of January when it will turn much colder with the risk of rain turning to snow.”
Met Office chief forecaster Will Lang said fierce winds will begin to batter parts of the UK this weekend.
He added: “A vigorous depression is expected to run quickly northeastwards passing northwest Scotland on Saturday.
“As this happens, very strong south to southwest winds are likely to develop across much of the northern UK.
“It remains possible that more of northern England and parts of Wales could also be affected.”
The grim warnings follow predictions Britain could be facing the worst winter in decades with a major big freeze due to hit in the New Year.
Experts say temperatures are likely to plunge in January with Arctic gales and blizzards sparking chaos until the spring.