Storm bus crash
© INS
Crushed: The driver of a single decker bus in Witley, Surrey, was badly injured when an oak tree came crashing down on the vehicle
Winds of up to 106mph battered Britain yesterday, bringing death and destruction as many returned to work after the Christmas holidays.

A driver was killed when a tree fell on his van. The storm also claimed the life of a man on board a tanker which was hit by a huge wave in the Channel.

Barely a single area was spared the onslaught roaring in from the Atlantic, which toppled lorries and brought down power lines.

Buildings were damaged, roads closed and trains, flights and ferries were cancelled.

The Met Office issued numerous severe weather warnings and emergency services urged motorists and pedestrians to stay indoors.

However, some had to be evacuated from their houses because of flooding.

Sleet and snow added to the problems in some parts, bringing a cold wake-up call to Britain in 2012 after an unusually mild festive season.

caravan storm damage
© Archie Ferguson

Upside down: Coastguard search and rescue had to attend a caravan park 300 miles from the Outer Hebrides when a home appeared to be flipped on to its roof near Dunoon in Argyll and Bute
UK storm overturned lorry
© Owen Humphreys/PA wire
Overturned: A lorry lies on its side after being blown over by high wind on the A66 in County Durham, as gusts of up to 85mph battered the country
Storm fallen tree Havant
© Chris Ison/PA Wire
Heavy damage: A large tree rests on three cars after being blown over in Havant, Hampshire
UK sotrm death scene
© Mike Gunnill
Tragedy: Emergency services at the scene in Tunbridge Wells where a 50-year-old van driver was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle in high winds
UK storm car flooded
© PA
Flooded engine: A car lies partially submerged in the River Chew, Somerset. Emergency services had to rescue a woman from the car as it became trapped in floodwaters
A Met Office spokesman said last night: 'An intense Atlantic storm passed over the UK bringing some very strong winds with it.

'We do expect stormy conditions at this time of year, but the strength of this one was unusual.'

The driver who died was a man in his 50s whose identity has not been revealed.

A 3ft-diameter tree trunk smashed on to his van in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

UK storm overturned lorry 2

Over and out: These two lorries ended up on their sides after being hit by high winds
Numerous roads near rivers and the coast were shut after flood alerts, with the Environment Agency issuing 21 river alerts in the South West alone.

Waves hit massive heights around the coast and Portland Coastguard in Dorset, where 45ft breakers rolled in, warned people to keep their distance today.

A spokesman said: 'Often people like to walk along harbour walls or go on the beach to see the waves, but they really do need to keep well clear - it is very dangerous.'

UK storm landing
© Andrew McCaren/Ross Parry Agency
On a wing and a prayer: A passenger jet gets blown of course while attempting to land in gale force winds at England's highest airport, Leeds Bradford International
Norman Spirit ferry
© PA
The Norman Spirit ferry limps into Dover, Kent, as fierce storms batter Britain, with heavy rain and winds gusting up to 85mph
yacht Liquid Vortex
© INS News Agency Ltd
Sailing training yacht Liquid Vortex and its amateur crew of seven had to be rescued off the coast of Kent when it was battered by violent winds of up to storm force 11
Worst hit was Scotland's central belt, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, where winds of up to 102mph forced the closure of main road and rail bridges and the cancellation of flights and train services.

At one stage 60,000 homes were without power.

The East Coast train company halted virtually all its services north of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Winds of 106mph were recorded at Great Dun Fell in the north Pennines.

Around 1,500 homes in Steeton, near Keighley, West Yorkshire, were without gas after equipment was damaged by high winds.

At Epsom racecourse in Surrey, part of a grandstand was blown away.

The port of Dover was shut all morning and ferry services to and from the Isle of Wight were cancelled.

A man had to be rescued after he got into difficulties as he rowed in his dinghy to reach his yacht in 'appalling weather conditions' in Portsmouth Harbour.

A Coastguard rescue helicopter was scrambled along with a MoD police launch and a police rib (rigid inflatable boat).

The man was found suffering from hypothermia on a mud flat next to his upturned dinghy.

Drivers in Bristol also experienced travel havoc after strong wind and rain brought down trees and caused flooding.

Fire-fighters rushed to the rescue of a woman in her 40s after she drove through a flooded ford in her Vauxhall Nova this afternoon.

The woman - who cannot swim - was left terrified when her car was swept away in two feet deep water and into a tree in Chew Stoke, Somerset.

Luckily, two members of staff from the Environment Agency were in the area at the time and waded into the water to pull out the woman, who was not injured.

In Gloucestershire, police recorded a total of 24 weather related incidents between midnight and 10.45am this morning.

The storm-force conditions also caused havoc for those who were not even going anywhere.

Five people were injured when high winds overturned caravans this morning at the Stratheck caravan park in Dunoon in Argyll and Bute.

Three were airlifted to the Royal Alexandra hospital in Paisley for treatment after the incident.

'Heavy rain will also affect many regions, with a risk of localised flooding.'

A waterfall appeared to defy gravity when, instead of gushing down, it flowed upwards towards the skies.

The image was captured close to Great Dun Fell in the Pennines where a windspeed of 106mph was recorded.

East Coast trains said it was 'very unlikely ' that any services would operate north of Newcastle for the rest of the day.

Edinburgh Waverley station was closed for safety reasons and engineers were assessing the building during the afternoon.

Elsewhere in Scotland, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue said they had attended 488 incidents by 1pm, and had received 572 calls.

A spokesman said most of the calls were in connection with fallen trees and damaged buildings.

They also said there were reports of flying bus shelters and a number of garden sheds.

Fife Constabulary said they had been at more than 100 separate incidents relating to the high winds and rain.

The winds across the central belt of the country eased off during the afternoon.

Edinburgh airport lifted restrictions on incoming flights but departures were still subject to disruption.

Buses had to replace trains on some East Coast services between London and Harrogate and Hull.

The Association of British Insurers said storm damage would be covered by home and business property policies, and comprehensive motor insurance would cover damage caused to vehicles.

Weathermen are expecting the windy weather to continue for a few days but say it will be drier by the weekend.

UK storm cyclist
© Alamy Live News
A cyclist tries to cycle through the floodwater at the promenade in Ayr despite the high winds and heavy rains...
UK storm bus stop boat
© Geoff Moore/Dorset Media Service
When the boat comes in: This worker was left bemused after strong winds off Chesil Beach, Dorset, swept a boat into a bus stop
UK storm waterfall
© North News & Pictures Ltd
Water sight: In the valley of High Cup Nick, Cumbria, gale force winds blew water from a waterfall upwards into the sky
A waterfall appeared to defy gravity when, instead of gushing down, it flowed upwards towards the skies.

The image was captured close to Great Dun Fell in the Pennines where a windspeed of 106mph was recorded earlier today.

East Coast trains said it was 'very unlikely ' that any services would operate north of Newcastle for the rest of the day.

Edinburgh Waverley station was closed for safety reasons and engineers will assess the building this afternoon.

Elsewhere in Scotland, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue said they had attended 488 incidents by 1pm today, and had received 572 calls.

A spokesman said most of the calls were in connection with fallen trees and damaged buildings.

They also said there were reports of flying bus shelters and a number of garden sheds.

Fife Constabulary said they had been at more than 100 separate incidents relating to the high winds and rain.

The winds across the central belt of the country eased off this afternoon.

Edinburgh airport lifted restrictions on incoming flights but departures were still subject to disruption.

Buses had to replace trains on some East Coast services between London and Harrogate and Hull.

The Met Office today issued a severe weather warning for the whole of the Westcountry from 3am to 6pm on Tuesday.

The weather warning, the lowest of three on the Met Office system, urges people to 'be aware' with travel disruption likely.

Meanwhile Britain's biggest port, Felixstowe, is expected to remain closed for the rest of the day as lethal storms rage across the North Sea.

Officials at the Port of Felixstowe advised truckers not to travel to the container terminal and all bookings have been cancelled.

They said the howling storms made it unsafe to operate the quayside's huge ship-to-shore cranes which hoist containers the size of small lorries.

Sport was also affected, as a race meeting was today abandoned over safety concerns as storm force winds battered Ayr racecourse, Ayrshire.

The Scottish race meet was initially given the go-ahead after an early morning inspection but high winds took their toll in the hours that followed.

Part of the roof at Epsom Racecourse was also blown off due to high winds.

In Wales, twelve people were evacuated from five homes in Dolgellau, Gwynedd, early today after a short circuit in an external electrical box.

Police across the country urged motorists to drive with extra care and avoid uncecessary journeys.

A spokesman for Cumbria Police said gusts of 70mph have hit the region, with a number of reported incidents.

In the capital, a tree on the line at Bellingham in south east London meant trains between Bromley South and London via Bellingham had to be diverted via Herne Hill.

Dozens of commuters in the south east had a lucky escape when their passenger train struck a huge tree which had fallen across the line during the storms today.

The First Great Western train from Basingstoke to Reading could not stop in time and smashed into the tree just after 6.30am near the Berkshire village of Mortimer.

Network Rail said no-one was injured but the line was blocked.

The severe weather was having a big effect on rail services in Scotland.

In the Glasgow area, buses were replacing trains between Helensburgh Central and Dumbarton Central, while trains between Dalmuir and Hyndland via Singer were being diverted via Yoker.

Public transport on the roads also suffered.

A bus driver had to be freed after a large tree fell on his vehicle, trapping him inside in Witley, Surrey.

The single-decker Stagecoach bus was in Petworth Road when the oak tree, measuring 6ft across, fell on to it at about 8.25am.

Avon and Somerset Police said they had 24 weather-related incidents between midnight and 10.45am, 19 of them relating to trees that had been blown over on to roads.

Up to 2,000 homes across Cumbria - including about 400 in Allonby - were left without power overnight, said Electricity North West.

The supplier said power has since been restored to the affected addresses.

The Met Office has warned that the weather will stay windy and wet into tomorrow 'so it will be a pretty unpleasant start to the year.'

UK storm wind speed graph
© Twitter

A graph posted from the official Twitter account of the Forth Road Bridge in Queensferry, Scotland, showed how average wind speeds today were literally off the charts in the morning
Temperatures peaked at 15C (59F) on New Year's Eve, ending a year which has been the warmest apart from 2006.

The average temperature over last year was 9.62C (49.3F) and the UK enjoyed its warmest April and spring on record, the second warmest autumn and the warmest October day.

Temperatures reached as high as 33.1C (91.5F) at Gravesend in Kent on June 27.

Weather experts predict a marked drop in temperature, with the unusually mild conditions over Christmas and the New Year making way for more seasonal mercury readings.

Despite the milder conditions over Christmas, average temperatures for last month are likely to be close to average.

John Prior, national climate manager at the Met Office, said: 'While it may have felt mild for many so far this December, temperatures overall have been close to what we would expect.

'It may be that the stark change from last year, which was the coldest December on record for the UK, has led many to think it has been unseasonably warm.'

UK storm pilot boat
© Chris Ison/PA Wire
All at sea: A pilot boat returning to Portsmouth battles through high waves and fierce storms as gusts topped 85mph this morning
On the whole, Britain saw 105 per cent of the expected sunshine in 2011 and 102.8 per cent of the expected rainfall.

But while Scotland saw heavy rain - 122 per cent of the year's average - England remained drier at 84.3 per cent.

Areas in East Anglia had the second lowest rainfall on record while parts of the Midlands saw the third driest year.