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New hurricane to hit Britain

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Britain’s Indian Summer is about to be swept aside as four days of gales and torrential rains batter the country.

The tail end of Hurricane Ophelia, currently lashing the United States, is due to hit tomorrow causing chaos with 65mph gusts.

And on top of that, an early Big Freeze is expected with an “Arctic blast bringing severe frosts” and snowfall in some areas before the end of the month.

Over the next few days there will be a risk of flooding, falling branches and damaged buildings across virtually the entire UK, weather experts said last night.

Jonathan Powell, senior forecaster at Positive Weather Solutions, said the strength of the winds could match Hurricane Katia which devastated parts of Britain last month.

“The remnants of Ophelia are gearing up to cause chaos this week and look likely to set in until the weekend with virtually the whole of the country in for a battering,” he said. “It will be coupled with torrential rain, although there will be a lull in the downpours on Thursday and Friday.

“The end of the month and November are looking colder than average with an Arctic blast bringing freezing temperatures, severe frosts and even the chance of snow.”

He said Ophelia could “give Katia a run for her money”.

Helen Chivers, forecaster at the Met Office, said: “The tail of Ophelia is going to get mixed up in our system towards the end of the week.

“The North could be in for some gale-force gusts. It is certainly the end of the warm spell and is looking much more like a windy and rainy autumn ­picture.”

It will bring an abrupt end to Britain’s autumn heatwave which has made the past few days feel more like mid-summer than October.

Virtually the entire country has basked in an Indian Summer with temperatures nudging 86F (30C) over the weekend, breaking previous records for October.

That followed the hottest September 30 for more than 100 years with parts of the country hitting 85F at the weekend.

The heatwave is thought to have caused the deaths of thousands – a 10 per cent increase in deaths is expected in hot spells.

Doctors said it could even exceed the 11 per cent death rate spike seen when temperatures hit 86F in August during a hot snap that lasted just two days.

Last week saw temperatures consistently pushing 86F for five days, nearly 30F higher than average, with night-time temperatures higher than expected for the time of year.

London Ambulance Service reported a 20 per cent rise in emergency calls for people with breathing difficulties, with a call every 20 seconds at some points.

Yesterday the Department of Health defended its decision not to issue a heat health warning.

Dave Britton, spokesman for the Met Office, which issues the warnings on behalf of the Department of Health, said: “Temperatures did not reach trigger levels.”

Weathermen yesterday warn­- ed that an early cold snap could see temperatures plunge to freezing this month bringing snow in a matter of weeks.


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