Three ‘danger to life’ flood warnings are in place for Dorset as high tides and strong winds threaten to overwhelm sea defences
Fourteen thousand homes are without power in southwest England as winds of up to 80mph hit southern areas of the country.
Forecasters have warned that heavy rain and gale force winds could bring travel disruption and flooding to coastal areas over the next few days.
The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning, with southern and western coasts most at risk.
First Great Western Trains has advised passengers not to travel west of Exeter St Davids station because of “major” weather damage.
Southeastern has also imposed a 40mph speed limit on parts of its network from 11pm on Tuesday until Wednesday evening.
Fallen trees, floods and landslips are possible, said the company.
Severe gales and downpours are forecast for Tuesday night and Wednesday, with the heavy rain likely to continue into the weekend in southern areas.
“It will become windy everywhere,” says Sky News weather producer Joanna Robinson.
“Eighty-mile-per-hour gusts are possible for areas surrounding the Irish Sea, the Celtic Sea and the English Channel.”
The heavy rain is likely to bring more misery to flooded areas of Somerset, which were visited on Tuesday by Prince Charles.
People living in coastal areas are also being warned of possible flooding and are urged to avoid venturing close to the sea.
Will Stephens, RNLI Coastal Safety Staff Officer, said: “With more stormy weather forecast, we’re asking people to take extra care if they’re going down to the coast.
“Rough seas and extreme weather might look exciting, but getting too close can be risky. So respect the water and, in particular, avoid exposed places where big waves could sweep you off your feet.”
The Environment Agency – which has been accused of not doing enough to help Somerset flood victims – has issued 206 ‘be prepared’ flood alerts, more than 100 of those in the southeast.
The agency said on its website: “Today and tomorrow high tides, a positive surge, strong winds and large waves combine to bring a risk of significant impacts from coastal flooding to much of south-west England and southern England coastlines and minor impacts to the west Wales coastline.”
Sixty nine more serious flood warnings are also in place, while ‘danger to life’ warnings cover three areas of the Dorset coast – Weymouth seafront, Lyme Regis harbour and Bridport harbour.
High tide is expected in those areas on Wednesday morning.