Storm Imogen lashes Britain with gales and heavy rain

Storm Imogen: Dramatic Waves Batter Aberystwyth

Britain was lashed by hurricane-force winds that reached nearly 100mph as Storm Imogen battered southern parts of the country and left commuters braced for havoc on the transport networks.

Gales and heavy rain have forced road closures and delays to rail services, with airports warning flights may be disrupted.

Almost 300 Environment Agency flood warnings are in place across the UK amid heavy downpours, with 59 warnings calling for "immediate action", particularly in the south west and Wales where parts are expected to see up to more than 1.5ins (40mm) of rain during Monday.

Rail services in Wales, the south west and in southern areas are being disrupted due to strong winds, with speed restrictions and cancellations, the Severn Bridge was closed eastbound and restricted westbound because of strong winds and services from ferry companies Brittany and P&O are cancelled and delayed.

Gatwick airport also warned passengers flights could be delayed because of bad weather.

The Met Office has issued an amber "be prepared" wind warning for Wales, the south west, the south coast and London and south-east England, while coastal areas are expected to be lashed with large waves.

Forecaster Emma Sillitoe said the winds would be some of the worst so far this winter, not far off gusts of 105mph recorded last month in Shetland, Scotland.

She said: "We are looking to see gusts of 60-70mph quite widely, hitting the south west, Devon and Cornwall and moving across southern central parts towards London through the day. It is going to be picking up towards 70mph around lunchtime in London.

"We have seen 96mph at the Needles off the Isle of Wight and gusts to 80mph are likely, especially along northern coasts of Devon and Cornwall and along the Bristol Channel as well."