A major incident has been declared in parts of Scotland where drivers are stranded in blizzard conditions after the arrival of Storm Gerrit.

Six ploughs and three tractors have been deployed in an attempt to rescue cars and a jackknifed lorry from the A9 in the Scottish Highlands and the surrounding roads.

Paul Sweeney, Labour MSP for Glasgow, posted on social media that a ScotRail InterCity 125 train was hit hit a tree on the line, smashing the driver’s cab.

Sweeney wrote on X: “Horrendous tree impact damage to a ScotRail InterCity 125 locomotive today, en route from Dundee to Glasgow. Thankfully, the driver is unharmed.”

Train with smashed driver’s cab pictured from the side.
An InterCity 125 train damaged after hitting a tree on the line from Dundee to Glasgow. Photograph: @ASLEF_Scotland

The West Midlands and east Midlands are expected to face the worst of the rising flood waters, with the Environment Agency issuing warnings for rivers in Woodborough, Marchington, Halesowen and Warwick. In East Yorkshire, there is also a warning in place in the upper Hull catchment.

Sepa, the Scottish environment agency, has issued seven flood warnings, including across Dumfries and Galloway, Orkney and the Scottish Borders.

There are 139 flood alerts in place in England, particularly across the west – running from Carlisle down to Bournemouth – with a further 26 in Wales and 15 in Scotland.

Travellers were also warned of delays and potentially hazardous conditions on the way home from their Christmas holidays as the UK braces for the storm.

Yellow wind and rain warnings are in place across much of the UK.

In Scotland, the storm also led to power cuts at some 27,000 properties, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution said.

SSEN said as of 4.30pm on Wednesday supplies had been restored to about 8,500 properties, with more than 18,500 still cut off. The firm warned some could face 48 hours without power.

A flooded railway line at Bowling station in Bowling, Scotland.
A flooded railway line at Bowling station in Bowling, Scotland. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

By midday on Wednesday, at least 18 British Airways flights had been cancelled owing to the storm. Air traffic control restrictions meant the BA flights due to operate to or from London’s Heathrow airport were axed. They were return domestic trips to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey and Manchester, and to Barcelona, Berlin, Madrid and Paris Charles de Gaulle.

A BA spokesperson said: “We have apologised to our customers for any disruption to their travel plans and our teams are working hard to get them on their way as quickly as possible.”

The Met Office said that Mickleden in Cumbria had the most rainfall on Wednesday with 80mm followed by Thirlmere, Cumbria, with 68mm and Millport in Buteshire which had 58mm.

A man was rescued from a car that became stuck in flood water in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, on Wednesday morning, while major roads in Wolverhampton, Aberdeen, Ross-shire and south Ceredigion were blocked by fallen trees. In Dumbarton, a tree fell on to a train line and caught fire.

Dr Shaun Dellenty was among the motorists caught up in the congestion on the A9.

Dellenty wrote on X: “Huge lines of stationary traffic and severe gales and drifting snow. Not moved for two and a half hours. Seen one snowplough so far.”

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The A9 and the A96 at Huntly are closed in both directions between Dunkeld and Ballinluig due to flooding while the A82 Invergarry to Fort Augustus is closed in both directions due to fallen trees, according to Traffic Scotland’s website.

Flooding between Lockerbie and Carlisle means all rail lines are blocked between those stations. Avanti West Coast advised passengers not to attempt to travel north of Preston on Wednesday.

Emergency vehicle pumping water on flooded road with two workers in high vis workwear standing beside them.
Workers try to clear the A82 road from flooding on 27 December in Dumbarton, Scotland. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Those with pre-booked tickets for travel between Preston and either Edinburgh or Glasgow can board trains on Thursday or Friday.

Network Rail Scotland warned passengers that speed restrictions would be in place on Wednesday and advised them to check for cancellations. The ScotRail customer operations director, Phil Campbell, said: “Unfortunately, we expect disruption to our services due to the adverse weather, and customers can expect some changes to their journeys.

“We will be working closely with our colleagues at Network Rail Scotland to ensure we are able to keep people moving as much as possible, but customers should also expect that their journeys will take longer than usual, and there could be some cancellations.”

The Met Office meteorologist Simon Partridge said the storm was named as a warning to people coming home after the Christmas holidays.

Police in attendance as flood water is cleared from the M9 at Stirling.
Police in attendance as flood water is cleared from the M9 at Stirling. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

He said: “Due to the extent of the warnings that are being issued, it was deemed that a named storm would be a good idea because it will highlight to the public the risk associated, particularly as tomorrow is likely to be quite a busy day on the roads with people travelling back home from Christmas.”

In London,some parks including Golders Hill Park & Hill Garden and Pergola, West Ham Park and Queen’s Park were shut due to high winds.

A storm is named when it is deemed to have the potential to have a medium or high impact on the UK or Ireland. The Met Office and Met Éireann launched the scheme in 2015 to name storms as part of an effort to raise awareness of extreme weather events.

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