UK wind
Storm Imogen threatens to bring wind speeds of up to 70mph to the south east of EnglandGetty

Forecasters are warning of disruption to travel and damage to trees and properties as heavy rain and strong winds battered the south east of England. An amber "be prepared" severe warning for wind was in place on the morning of Monday 8 February, with a yellow "be aware" rain warning accompanying it.

Storm Imogen is the ninth storm to hit the UK this season, however, it is one of the rare times that the region near the capital will be worst affected. The Met Office has warned that southern parts of England are due to see wind gusts of up to 70mph, with 80mph gusts expected in exposed coastal areas.

A chief forecaster for the Met Office said: "An area of low pressure is expected to move eastwards across the UK on Monday with a swathe of very strong winds around its southern flank, which will affect parts of southern Britain. The winds are likely to be very gusty at times, particularly in association with heavy showers running across these areas."

The Met Office has predicted that the wind will ease towards the afternoon and evening, with the amber warning for wind in place until 6pm on Monday 8 February. Until the warning is lifted, the public have been cautioned to remain indoors where possible and walk far away from buildings and trees when outside.

During high wind speeds, commuters are advised not to travel on exposed routes such as bridges or high open roads. Gary Webb from Highways England urged motorists to consider the precarious driving conditions before leaving their homes.

A spokesperson for the Met Office said: "The strongest winds could affect the M4 and M5 motorways with wind gusts peaking from late morning into the afternoon. There is a risk of some disruption to infrastructure, road and rail."

According to the Met Office, gales are the most common cause of damage and disruption in the UK, with the average cost of wind damage each year amounting to £300m ($435m).

While Wales, the Midlands and southern England faced heavy winds, northern parts of the country were also on a yellow severe weather warning for icy conditions. Forecasters warned that for those in the north, this could lead to difficult driving conditions.

A spokesperson for the Met Office added: "Icy stretches are expected to form on unsettled area surfaces on Sunday evening and overnight into Monday morning. In addition, scattered wintry showers may give slight snowfalls on higher ground in the west of the area."