Tornado damages homes as severe weather disrupts Christmas getaway

Firefighters have been called to reports of a tornado as heavy rain disrupted the Christmas travel plans of millions.

The south of England has been soaked by showers throughout Saturday, and one suburban town saw a number of houses damaged when high winds hit.

Surrey Fire and Rescue received reports of a tornado in Chertsey shortly before 10.30am.

The service said in a statement: "We were called to a high wind incident affecting a number of houses in the Chertsey area."

Crews sent four fire engines and two aerial ladders to the town just outside London, and they worked to "make houses safe from damage to roofs".

Surrey Police also confirmed they attended the scene to "ensure the public's safety".

Shocked mum Pip Rickerby, 39, revealed the moment the tornado hit her street.

The mother-of-two told how her daughters were screaming in terror when the storm arrived.

She told The Sun: "It was absolutely mental. I actually feared for my life.

"I thought it was going to take my house like in the Wizard of Oz.

"It was really heavy rain and we were about to take our dog Toto out.

"It was really frightening, like nothing I've ever seen in my life - like we weren't in the UK."

A yellow weather warning for rain is in place until 9am on Sunday which stretches from Lands End to Dover.

MP for Arundel and South Down, Andrew Griffith, posted pictures of roads overwhelmed with water.

Writing on Twitter, the Conservative MP said the flooding in Pulborough had encouraged him to write to the Housing Secretary about flood risk and new housing developments.

Met Office forecaster Alex Burkill said on Saturday: "It's going to be very wet in southern parts as we go throughout the rest of today and into tomorrow."

Although the rain is not particularly heavy for the time of year, he still expects it to cause some problems, particularly in areas that have received a soaking in recent weeks and months.

Mr Burkill added: "Rainfall totals are only looking like 20-30mm, so not exceptional for the time of year, but because it's been so wet this month and through the rest of autumn, there could be some flooding in these areas.

"The roads within the warning area, there is a risk of seeing slow travel times.

"It's not looking too severe in terms of the weather but could be disruptive, mainly due to the number of people wanting to travel."

Elsewhere, there is a risk of patchy fog in parts of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland, Mr Burkill said.

According to the RAC, there are an estimated 5.6 million getaway trips planned for Monday and Tuesday.

The motoring body said the worst of the delays are expected on Sunday, with the M25 between the M23 and M40, and roads between Flitwick and Daventry thought to have the longest queues of up to 90 minutes.

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