‘Danger to life’ weather warnings are in place as the UK is battered by severe gales and heavy rain, with homes, businesses and roads at risk of flooding.
Britons face a hazardous and chaotic commute on Tuesday, with the Met Office telling drivers and rail and bus passengers to prepare for delays.
Forecasters are expecting about 50mm of rain in some places, as 65mph winds batter coastal and exposed areas, stirring up huge waves that will hammer coastlines.
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for wind and rain for all of Northern Ireland, and a yellow warning for rain for parts of southern Wales and England.
A handful of flood warnings or alerts were in place as a weather front from Scandinavia sweeps across the UK.
In Cornwall, the Coastguard was figuring out how to rescue a Russian cargo ship that became stranded off a beach in Falmouth amid large waves, strong winds and driving rain.
In Scotland, a number of lorries tipped over on board a P&O ferry arriving in Cairnryan in dreadful weather conditions.
Meteorologist Aidan McGivern said: “There will be some rough weather to come over the next 24 hours.
“It won’t be a cold start to Tuesday but it will be an unsettled one.”
He told the Express “a tricky rush hour is to come”.
The rain warning for South Wales – including Cardiff and Swansea – and nine counties in England – Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex – is in effect until 9pm.
About 50mm of rain could fall over hills, with 15-20mm expected widely.
The Met Office warned: "Another spell of wet and windy weather is expected on Tuesday when rain will be heavy at times and, given recent wet weather, likely lead to impacts in a few places.
"Over most of Wales, Devon and Cornwall the worst of the weather will have cleared by mid-afternoon whilst further east the worst conditions are likely to be during the afternoon and early evening.
"This wet weather, meanwhile, will be accompanied by windy conditions with gusts in exposed coastal locations around 50-65mph which means that some coastal routes, sea fronts and coastal communities may be affected by spray and/or large waves.
"Inland, gusts will be lower and mainly peak at 40-50mph.
The rain and wind warning for Northern Ireland is due to end at 9am.
The Met Office said: "A brief spell of wet and windy weather is expected early Tuesday, especially in the east during the morning rush hour.
"The highest rainfall totals will be over western and southern parts where 15-30mm rain is likely, amounts elsewhere much smaller.
"The windiest weather, meanwhile, will be in the far east and southeast during the morning rush hour, gusts then likely to widely reach 45-55mph and come close to 65mph in the most exposed spots.
"Elsewhere conditions will be less windy, especially by morning rush hour."
Once this weather system moves on, Wednesday will bring a mix of sunshine and showers, which will be heavy and blustery at times and mainly affect western and southern areas.
Similar conditions are expected through the rest of the week and into the weekend, as many Britons carry out their last-minute Christmas preparations.
Which areas are under ‘danger to life’ weather warnings?
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for rain for the following areas from 5am to 9pm on Tuesday:
Wales: Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Pembrokeshire, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan.
England: Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex.
A yellow warning for rain and wind is in place for all of Northern Ireland between 3am and 9am on Tuesday.
Met Office five-day forecast
A band of rain, heavy at times, will slowly edge eastwards across most parts, accompanied by a strong southerly wind, with coastal gales, and severe gales through Irish Sea at first.
Brighter, showery weather will slowly follow into western parts.
Evening rain across central, southern and eastern parts slowly clearing eastwards.
Clear spells and heavy showers will follow, especially in the south and west, where gusty at times.
Wednesday will see a mixture of sunshine and showers.
The showers will be heavy and blustery at times, mainly affecting western and southern areas.
Many northeastern parts should stay dry.
Thursday to Saturday
Sunshine and showers on Thursday, with some strong winds, especially in the south. Rain will reach many areas from the southwest on Friday, clearing to sunshine and showers on Saturday.
Will it be a white Christmas?
It’s still anyone’s guess whether snow will fall in the UK on Christmas Day.
Here’s what the Met Office is saying in its long-term forecast, from Saturday 22 December to Monday 31 December:
"Saturday looks like being mild with sunshine and showers. It is likely to be breezy in the south.
"Winds will probably be stronger generally on Sunday with gales around exposed coasts and hills. Rain may be persistent in the south though probably still showery in the north.
"The UK is likely to stay rather wet and windy for those last minute shopping trips on Christmas Eve.
"However, there are signs that Christmas Day itself may be drier, brighter, colder and less windy, though wind and some showers remain quite likely in the south.
"During the last week of December dry cold bright weather is more likely, with rain increasingly confined to the north and west."
Surviving the cold weather
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