Ferries, trains and motorways have been disrupted as Storm Noa hit the UK with gusts up to 98mph – as rescuers in Brighton searched for someone thought to have been swept out to sea.
Lifeboats, the coastguard helicopter and police were looking for somebody believed to have fallen in the water near Palace Pier after the alarm was raised about 4pm.
A woman was also seriously hurt this afternoon after scaffolding fell in Fareham, Hampshire.
The storm brought down trees and hundreds of properties lost power in southern England and Wales, while there was also disruption on the trains.
South Western Railway said services across its network could experience problems until 10pm. Thameslink and Great Western Rail also suffered delays and cancellations.
Two sections of the M4 in Wales had to be closed, as did the M48 Severn Bridge – where National Highways said winds reached 68mph.
Planes also struggled at London’s Heathrow Airport, where BigJetTV filmed several aborted attempts to land, and P&O said the weather was causing delays on the Dover-Calais ferry route.
In the South West, some 268 properties in Devon and 43 in Cornwall lost power this afternoon, according to the National Grid.
The strongest gust of 98mph was recorded by the Met Office at the exposed Needles chalk stacks on the Isle of Wight.
There was also a hair-raising moment for people on the Big One rollercoaster in Blackpool on Tuesday when operators stopped the ride near its summit due to high wind.
Local site The Gazette said passengers had to “battle with jelly legs” as staff helped them down 400 steps.
The Met Office’s Tom Morgan said there were “heavy showers and thunderstorms relatively widely through England and Wales this afternoon, particularly in southeast England and East Anglia”.
“We’ve also seen snow across the higher ground of Wales in the Pennines, and across the Scottish Highlands,” the forecaster added.
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Storm names for 2022/23 revealed
Winds are set to ease as Thursday progresses but there will still be rain showers across much of the country.
The weather system was named Noa by French meteorologists, but the season’s first official storm according to UK naming conventions is yet to hit.
Britain’s naming system is done in conjunction with the Dutch and Irish weather offices and the first one will be called Antoni.