HIGH winds brought down trees, damaged buildings and caused a lorry to overturn, with experts warning that worse weather is on the way.

The new Thomas Hardye Leisure Centre in Dorchester was evacuated at winds caused damage to the roof of the multi-million pound facility.

And Weymouth lifeboat was launched last night as a cargo ship began to drag its anchor.

A spokesman for the RNLI said: “The lifeboat was launched at 6.40pm last night to stand -by the cargo vessel Nadja which was dragging its anchor & in danger of running ashore near Bowleaze cove.

“In gale force winds of 35 knots gusting to 56 knots and driving rain a potential disaster was averted when she managed to start her engines and limp back to a safe area of Weymouth bay to anchor again.

“The lifeboat returned to station at approx 9.00pm.”

The Met Office issued a severe weather warning for the region last night and Dorset County Council is urging residents to be prepared for flooding over the winter.

A woman had a lucky escape after a tree smashed into the roof of her car in Weymouth.

Lynn Webb, 41, of Weymouth, had been waiting in her Ford Fusion for her son Jake Cowling in Alexandra Road when the tree came crashing down.

She said: “I am so lucky that I’m not injured.

“The tree fell so fast and crashed into the roof and covered most of the car.

“I was sitting waiting for Jake to come out of his dad’s house so we could go home when the tree hit the car.

“It was so scary – I just got out as soon as I could.

“My car is a complete write-off which is annoying but at least no one was hurt.”

Jake, 12, said: “I’m so glad my mum wasn’t injured. It is really bad to think that the wind can make a tree fall down on people and cars when they aren’t expecting it.”

The Met Office had warned residents to prepare for a night of severe weather, forecasting high winds and localised flooding.

And experts believe even worse could be on the way, warning of a potentially serious risk of flooding in the coming months following exceptionally wet weather throughout the year.

A spokeswoman for Dorset Fire and Rescue said crews were prepared to deal with any further incidents caused by the weather.

She said: “We urge people to take extra care when driving, ensuring that you are visible to other drivers and road users, by ensuring headlights are on, even in daylight hours, and not attempting to drive through standing or flowing water if you are not sure how deep it is.

“If you can get home before the worst of the weather, do so, or wait until it has passed before attempting longer routes.”

Brian Richards, flood risk manager at Dorset County Council, said: “It's important that people prepare as much as possible for flooding.

“There is a very real risk and it won't take much rainfall for flooding to occur.”

Areas that might be affected include the Winterbourne Valleys, the Frome and Piddle, the Tarrant, the River Wey and the River Allen.

'STAY safe and be prepared' is the message to homeowners if their property floods.

Guy Parker, from the Environment Agency, advised that a drainage or pump system may be more effective than using sandbags.

With a risk that flood water in some areas may be contaminated, people are advised to:

  • Avoid coming into contact with it if possible
  • Anyone who needs to go into the water should wear waterproof gloves and rubber boots and be aware of hazards such as manhole covers
  • Anyone who comes into contact with the water should wash their hands afterwards
  • People are advised to be aware of a high risk of rock fall and mudflows in coastal areas For more information about how to protect your home, or to sign up to the free flood warning service, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/floods/groundwater

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