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Storm Arwen: Man dies after car hit by falling tree in NI

Waves crash the against the sea wall and Roker Lighthouse in Sunderland in the tail end of Storm Arwen
Waves crash the against the sea wall and Roker Lighthouse in Sunderland in the tail end of Storm Arwen

Tributes have been paid to a Derry man who died after his car was struck by a falling tree during Storm Arwen.

Francis Lagan, principal of St Mary's Primary School in Maghera, Co Derry died yesterday evening on the Dublin Road, Antrim, as gusts reached almost 145km/h in parts of Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein MLA Declan Kearney said Mr Lagan was a "highly respected principal".

"I was shocked and very saddened to learn about the death of a motorist after a tree fell on his car while travelling along the Dublin Road in Antrim town on Friday evening," he said.

"The victim of this tragedy, Francis Lagan, was a highly respected South Derry school principal, who made an immense contribution to the community which he served. Francis was a renowned Maghera educationalist and civic leader.

"My thoughts and sympathies are with his family, school colleagues and students, and the wider community of Maghera, where he was held in very great regard."

Parts of the UK experienced wind speeds of almost 160km/h, according to the British Met Office.

A second man was killed in northwest England after a tree fell on him in Ambleside, Cumbria Police said.

The Met Office had issued a red wind warning for parts of northeast England which expired early this morning, but the forecaster said amber and yellow warnings for wind remained in place across large swathes of the country.

A fallen tree blocks a road in the centre of Norton village in Teesside after gusts of almost 160km/h battered the UK during Storm Arwen

A few inches of snow also fell across Scotland and parts of England, with more expected during the morning.

Marco Petagna, a Met Office forecaster, said: "We've seen some pretty severe gusts overnight with the highest speeds hitting 98mph (158km/h) at Brizlee Wood in Northumberland."

"Elsewhere, exposed sites in Scotland and Northern Ireland also surpassed 90mph (145km/h).

"This has been coupled with a few inches of snow which has fallen in some areas.

"In the higher ground areas of Scotland we expected to see up to 15cm falling but the strong winds meant the snow blew around and created a blizzard in some parts."

People have been advised to be wary of travelling, as train networks across the UK reported disruption to services.

While the red weather warning expired in the early hours of this morning for the UK, the forecaster said amber and yellow warnings for wind remained in place, with the expectation of "some very strong gusts" in many areas.

A man makes safe fallen masonry from a property, which has damaged a nearby car in Sunderland, after Storm Arwen battered some areas of the UK

Tens of thousands of people across Britain were left without power overnight.

Roads were closed by fallen debris in the worst-hit parts of Scotland, while LNER train services north of Newcastle were also ground to a halt, with high winds, heavy rain and snowfall arriving from yesterday afternoon.

The British Met Office, which named the storm, warned the north-east of England, north-west of England, Yorkshire, the West Midlands and the East Midlands will experience cold weather until Monday.

"Many roads remain closed so please only travel if absolutely necessary," it said on Twitter.

Amber weather warnings remain in place this morning for the north-east coasts of England and Scotland, and the south-west coasts of England and Wales, while the yellow warning covers most of the UK until 6pm.

More than 55,000 customers in the Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear areas experienced power cuts, the Northern Powergrid said.

Engineers were also working to restore supplies in Scotland and southern England.

A lorry blows over in high winds blocking the A179 near Hartlepool, County Durham, during Storm Arwen

Storm Arwen is moving in from the North Sea and will begin to travel south before easing on Sunday.

The warnings for Donegal, Sligo and Mayo were in place until early this morning, with strong gale force 9 winds expected along northern and eastern coasts, and storm force 10 winds in the Irish Sea tonight.

Met Éireann said Storm Arwen would introduce strong northerly winds and a cool polar maritime air, with the strongest winds expected along northern and northwestern coasts yesterday, and later in the Irish Sea.

As a result of Arwen, the first storm of the season, yesterday was cold and very windy, according to Met Éireann meteorologist Elizabeth Coleman."

Gale to strong gale force winds are forecast along north facing coasts, generating large coastal waves and spray overtopping," she said.

Additional reporting Reuters

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