Bank Holiday traffic chaos has already hit Britain’s busiest roads, with frustrated motorists already facing a 70-mile long queue on one motorway, as staycationers rush to the country’s top beauty spots to enjoy the three-day weekend.
Holidaymakers travelling through the south-west have been halted in a huge traffic jam on the M5 between Exeter and Taunton this afternoon, including a 70-mile northbound queue and delays of up to two hours southbound.
Queuing traffic has also been pictured on the M25 and a series of major roads in the West Country, with an eight-mile journey on the A30 taking one hour.
And with tourism bosses stating the region is already at full capacity, anyone without a confirmed booking is being urged to stay away.
It comes as bosses at the RAC say they expect record-breaking traffic as staycationers hit the roads before the long weekend.
Parts of the M25 in Kent and Surrey were already rammed with traffic by early this morning.
There are also major delays on the M4 near Bristol and near Newport, the A38 in Devon, the A303 near Stonehenge and the A35 between Exeter and Bournemouth, according to traffic data.
It comes as roads have been flooded with water amid flash floods as Britain faces half a month’s worth of rain expected to fall in just three hours, with 5.6 million people taking to the roads to get away for the bank holiday weekend.
A yellow storm warning remains in place for a swathe of southern England and South Wales, with another warning for rain covering the north east.
The Met Office expects parts of the country to see up to 40mm worth of rain in just three hours – compared to last year’s monthly total of 76.7mm.
Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: ‘Ahead of what is traditionally a peak weekend for the South West all emergency services and partners have been working together.
‘We are confident the South West is well prepared and look forward to enjoying the sunshine, but planning any journey to Devon and Cornwall is hugely important.
‘If you travel without booking accommodation first you are unlikely to be able to find any in the region when you arrive.’
Simon Fishwick, Company Secretary & Directorn of Visit Devon, told MailOnline: ‘Devon and Cornwall are going to be very busy over the next few days and our message to all visitors is to plan ahead and enjoy the weekend safely.
‘Reports are that most businesses are experiencing high levels of bookings and this is not the time to turn up on the off chance that something might be available.
‘Our advice is to do your research, plan your visit, book your accommodation and visits to attractions, restaurants, etc in advance but heed social distancing measures and safety advice especially on the coast. We would like everyone to have a great time but safety must be to the forefront of everybody’s mind.’
Last night, torrential rain and flooding caused traffic mayhem as more heavy showers and thunderstorms are set to soak parts of the UK today.
Forecasters say this Bank Holiday Monday could be the coldest on record for some parts of the UK as temperatures are expected to be well below average for the time of year.
But that hasn’t stopped holidaymakers from hitting the roads and heading to beauty spots, sparking major traffic delays.
One of the motorways facing delays today was the M4 in south Wales. One Twitter user said earlier today: ‘We are on the M4 by the M5 turn-off to get Otter and it’s awful – solid traffic.’
Another said: ‘Absolutely hate bank holiday traffic when there’s only two roads in Wales to get to one place.’
One Twitter user said they had been caught up in the long delays on the M5.
They said: ‘In the time it’s taken you to fly home my family has made it about fifty miles on a traffic jam on the M5 in return from our holiday.’
One Twitter user, Sharon, said: ‘Ah, this is what Bank Holiday weekends are all about – stationary traffic in both directions and heavy rain! Shouldn’t have expected anything less.’
It comes as heavy showers yesterday brought major problems on the roads, with flash floods reported in parts of Surrey creating difficult driving conditions and road closures, while Belmont railway station was forced to shut.
Shocking footage was captured yesterday afternoon which showed a rapid mud slide across a road Rame Peninsula in Cornwall.
Road closures were also reported in Kingston, south-west London, where a Twitter user posted pictures of flooding in different parts of the town, including the underpass at Richmond Road near the railway station which was immersed in water.
Another video shared on Twitter shows motorists struggling to get through flooded areas of London Road in Glasgow, with cars half-submerged in water.
The Met Office has issued weather warnings as downpours are likely to persist overnight, which could bring localised flooding and travel disruption.
A yellow warning for heavy rain has been placed over north-east England which is expected to last until 10am on Friday, while thunderstorms are forecast in parts of southern England and South Wales between 11am and 8pm.
Meteorologist Emma Salter said: ‘There will be quite heavy, isolated downpours and there is potential for flash flooding.
‘But not everywhere will see torrential rain, just a few localised communities will see torrential downpours.’
Commenting on the weekend ahead, Ms Salter said: ‘We’ll see an improving picture throughout the weekend but it will be quite chilly, as far as August is concerned, particularly in the north. Sunday will be dry with a good spell of sunshine.’
This Bank Holiday, Ms Salter said top temperatures could reach 19C in London while parts of Scotland will be chillier with highs of 11C, well below the average of 16C usually seen in the country.
She pointed to last year’s late August Bank Holiday Monday which was the hottest on record, with 33.2C recorded at Heathrow.
‘We could see some places getting the coldest maximum temperatures on record this Bank Holiday Monday,’ Ms Salter said.
‘The lowest maximum temperature recorded was 10.1C in the Shetland Islands – if anywhere gets lower than that it’s in the running to be the coldest on record.’
Storm Francis saw vicious gusts hit The Needles near the Isle of Wight on Tuesday. This is just short of the August record for the UK which was 87mph recorded in 1996.
Meanwhile, Storm Ellen’s gales brought the highest ever share of wind power on the electricity system as wind turbines supplied 59.1 per cent of Britain’s power on Saturday at 1am, according to National Grid ESO.
A spokesman said ‘it means that wind was contributing more than it has ever done to the electricity system at just shy of 60 per cent’.
The impact of Storm Francis saw gusts of 75mph at Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, Wales, on Tuesday, equalling the Welsh August gust record at Milford Haven in August 1979.
The wettest place on Tuesday was Bethesda in north Wales where 101mm of rain was recorded. Meanwhile, the fire service in Northern Ireland said 37 people were rescued from flood water.
Elderly residents had to be rescued from the County Down coastal resort town of Newcastle after a river burst its banks, and in Draperstown, Co Londonderry, rescuers had to save nine people from inside a house, along with four outside who were trying to help.