Motorists trying to get home in time for Christmas face huge travel disruption this weekend after a sudden and widespread flooding wreaked havoc across the country. Today is anticipated to be the busiest travel day of the festive season with approximately 18 million people taking to the road. However, according to the BBC and the Met Office, millions of those taking to the roads and railways face misery over the next few days.
Incredible aerial footage from the BBC showed roads completely submerged in water around Guildford, Redhill, Gatwick and the M23 following a night of heavy rain.
The M23 – a major route through south-west England – had to be shut down after a river burst its banks, sending a deluge of water directly onto the motorway.
The closure meant that motorists faced a nine-hour queue on the M23 yesterday.
The motorway, which was closed between junctions 10 and 11 in both directions in West Sussex, has since reopened.
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Motorists trying to get home in time for Christmas face huge travel disruption
The shocking travel chaos is expected to continue up until Christmas Day
Sussex Police described driving conditions in the region as “miserable”, and said there was “a lot of standing water on the roads”.
Devon and Cornwall Police said flooding across the force area made “a number of roads impassable” and urged motorists to take extra care and avoid driving into standing water.
However, the shocking travel chaos is expected to continue up until Christmas Day, triggering panic for those with Christmas journeys to make.
The Environment Agency has already issued more than 100 flood warnings across England – where flooding is expected – as well as 255 flood alerts, which warn of possible flooding.
The M23 – a major route through south-west England – had to be shut down after a river burst its banks
The Met Office has warned of further heavy downfalls this weekend with up to 30mm of rain.
The weather agency have issued severe weather warnings across southern England until noon on Sunday.
Yellow weather warnings are also in place across eastern England, the Midlands and Yorkshire.
Motorists planning for the Christmas getaway are being urged to check their routes in advance.
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The train chaos has been blamed on fallen trees and landslides on the train tracks
On the railways, Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express passengers have been advised not to travel, with disruption on the Brighton mainline.
John Halsall, managing director of Network Rail’s southern region, said the combination of one of the wettest autumns on record and December’s heavy rains has put the rail network “under enormous pressure”.
Disruption had been expected until the end of Saturday, but Southeastern later tweeted that the line would remain closed until Sunday due to the damage and repair work required.
The train chaos has been blamed on fallen trees and landslides on the train tracks.
Britain has already faced one of its wettest Decembers on record so far, as the country recieved 92 percent of the average rainfall for December by Thursday.