Coast ravaged by ‘worst storm of the year’

Author: PA

The lighthouse at The Needles on the westernmost point of the Isle of Wight
reported gusts of between 95mph and 100mph.

But meteorologists said average wind speeds were closer to 70mph in exposed
areas as storms swept the country.

In West Sussex, fire crews were called to two lightning strikes, and motorists
had to be rescued from cars in Dorset after getting caught in flash floods.

The Environment Agency has 24 flood warnings in force, with the majority in
southern coastal regions.

The worst of the weather will have passed over most of the country by early
evening, and the storm is expected to move out to the North Sea and lose
power overnight.

Forecasters said Sunday should see calmer weather.

But northern areas that escaped much of the ravages of today’s storm will get
a lashing on Monday, with winds of up to 60mph, and some areas in western
Scotland will see gusts reaching 70mph.

Stephen Davenport, of MeteoGroup UK, said: “This is the strongest storm we
have had this year, but it is just an autumnal storm, and not untypical for
this time of year.”

The storm developed off the west coast and was fed by the still-warm autumn
sea temperatures, he said.

The stormy conditions have been causing disruption throughout the South and
West.

In Haywards Heath, West Sussex, workers stranded by floodwater in four units
on the Burrell Road industrial estate were rescued by boats.

West Sussex firefighters were also called out after a tree was brought down on
power lines and caught alight.

In Wales, Pembrokeshire was the hardest hit, with widespread flooding of the
county’s road network trapping people in their cars.

Firefighters using a boat and a Land Rover rescued a woman stranded by
floodwater in the Rosemarket, at Milford Haven.

In Haverfordwest, 12 people were rescued from a coach trapped in floodwater
between Caneston Bridge and Cross Hands Road.

Floods in Tenby affected roads around the resort, blocking cars and trapping
people inside them. A total of 14 people were rescued from vehicles in and
around the town, with five of those trapped at Gumfreston.

Some cross-Channel sailings were disrupted due to the rough seas and winds
gusting up to force 10, the Port of Dover said.

SeaFrance crossings from Dover to Calais and LD Lines services to Boulogne
were subject to some delays.

A Port of Dover spokesman warned passengers to expect disruptions.

Many parts of Cornwall, including Padstow harbour, were also hit, the fire
service said.

Brittany Ferries cancelled sailings from Plymouth to Roscoff and Poole to
Cherbourg because of the severe weather.

In Dorset, five people, including a pregnant woman and two young children,
fled their car when it was enveloped by floodwater at Whitchurch
Canonicorum, near Bridport.

A Dorset Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said the water was up to the car
bonnet by the time crews arrived, but all five had got out and were safe.
The pregnant woman was checked over by ambulance staff.

Two people in a car were also pulled out of floodwater at Broadwindsor in
Dorset and were unhurt.

In Bournemouth, the roof of a covered car parking area next to student
accommodation was blown off in high winds, but no-one was injured.

Meanwhile, three oil rig workers were rescued by a lifeboat crew after their
supply boat ran aground at Britain’s most easterly point.

Lifeboatmen said the boat was washed on to a jetty at Ness Point, near
Lowestoft, Suffolk, late last night as 45mph winds battered parts of the
east coast.

A spokesman for the Lowestoft lifeboat crew said the men were unhurt but their
boat was destroyed.

“There’s a very old jetty on Ness Point and their boat had literally been
washed on to it,” he said.

“We got them off and left the boat there, but during the night another wave
hit it and it is a write-off.”

He added: “We were up to gale force out here. There were gusts of 45mph. It
was rough. They’d been heading into Lowestoft to pick something up when they
got into trouble.”

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