Heavy rain, strong winds and snow are forecast across the UK this morning, with “major flooding” already reported in some parts of the country.
The Met Office has issued a yellow “be aware” warning for snow in the Scottish Highlands, Western Isles, Grampian, Strathclyde and Central, Tayside and Fife regions.
Between 2cm and 5cm is forecast for many parts, with up to 20cm on the highest ground.
A yellow warning for strong winds is also in force across England and Wales until 7am this morning, with forecasters warning “some delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport are likely”.
It is feared that outbreaks of rain, occasionally heavy, will add to the difficult travel conditions.
On Wednesday, Ireland was badly hit as flash floods caused significant damage in Mountmellick – and Laois County Council was forced to trigger an emergency plan and evacuate residents from their homes.
Parts of Wales have also seen torrential downpours – with “major flooding” affecting Llangefni. In Beaumaris, a street in the town centre was inundated with water after heavy rain caused a castle’s moat to burst.
Meanwhile, in Cumbria, flooding forced motorists to abandon their vehicles as roads and schools were closed.
Two lanes of the southbound carriageway on the M6 were closed between junctions 35 and 36 because of the bad weather there.
Lancashire’s Fire and Rescue Service says it has received more than 400 calls related to flooding – rescuing more than 70 people, 20 horses, a cat and a dog.
“Some of the more serious incidents have included helping move vulnerable people out of their homes, moving animals that have been trapped and pumping water out of houses where the floodwater was affecting the electricity,” it said.
RAC spokesman Pete Williams warned drivers that high winds would make conditions “challenging”.
He added: “The advice is for drivers to slow down and ensure they double the normal recommended two-second distance between their car and the vehicle in front.
“Hold the steering wheel firmly and be prepared to be buffeted by gusts of wind.”
He recommended drivers pack a winter survival kit, including a shovel for snow, a blanket, warm clothing, a torch, flask with warm drink and to make sure mobile phones were fully charged.