A series of weather warnings are in place across the country
Flooding is causing chaos on road and rail networks after heavy rain affected large parts of the UK.
The Met Office issued weather alerts as a band of rain – which arrived in Cornwall on Wednesday afternoon – travels across the country before passing over Scotland’s east coast on Friday.
Conditions may be “atrocious” for much of the UK, while the Scottish Highlands could see some snow, the forecaster said as it put out a yellow warning for rain.
The M23 was closed in both directions between Junction 10 for Crawley and Junction 11 for Pease Pottage, both in West Sussex, due to standing water on the carriageway in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The road was reopened after several hours but some lanes remained closed.
The A27 was closed in both directions between Emsworth and Chichester following heavy rain which left up to 20 cars stuck in flood water, according to West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
The service posted on Twitter: “Police on the scene and the road closed in both directions. We are attending with specialist equipment to help bring people to safety. AVOID THE AREA and only travel if necessary.”
It added: “We are extremely busy dealing with multiple flood-related incidents, including rescuing people from cars and flooding in buildings.
“Lots of localised flooding on roads across West Sussex, please take care tonight and only drive if absolutely necessary.”
Some rail lines were affected, with disruption between Tonbridge and Hasting caused by flooding in a tunnel at Wadhurst in East Sussex.
National Rail said it had rectified a fault in the tunnel involving a blown fuse and a melted piece of signalling equipment.
Flooding between Lewes and Brighton stations also caused disruption to Southern services on Thursday morning.
On the Isle of Wight, flooding caused the cancellation of trains on the Island Line until 9am.
Police in Winchester, Hampshire, advised of a large tree coming down and blocking a road in Swanmore.
The Environment Agency issued 27 flood warnings and 104 flood alerts on Thursday morning.
A Met Office yellow rain warning is in place for the whole of Thursday.
This covers an area stretching from Birmingham, Lincoln and Hull to north Wales, Liverpool and Manchester, as well as the east coast up to the Scottish border.
The rain brings a small chance of homes and businesses flooding, communities being temporarily cut off by flooded roads and disruptions to transport, the Met Office warns.
Another warning will come into force at 3pm on Thursday until 6pm on Friday for the east coast of Scotland.
A yellow weather warning was also issued for fog across parts of Northern Ireland from 4.40am to 10am on Thursday.
Met Office spokesperson Craig Snell said: “The warning areas are where we are most concerned about the risk of flooding but it doesn’t mean that the areas outside them are not going to see some pretty atrocious conditions.”
Mr Snell said a warning is in place for the southeast because “it has been quite wet there since the beginning of November with many places already seeing more than their month’s share of rain”.
The Midlands and the north of England will have a “pretty miserable day” on Thursday after the rain sweeps in overnight, Mr Snell said.
“The rain will be accompanied by a brisk wind so it’s not going to feel good.”
But he added Scotland could see “two days of persistent rain” and this may result in snow falling in the highlands – although this is not unusual for November.
“If you want to take a walk in the hills in Scotland tomorrow you may come across snow but for the lower levels it is just going to be rain,” he said.