When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
WITH VIDEO: Warnings issued as Storm St Jude closes in on Dorset
DORSET residents are being urged to heed warnings as severe storms and hurricane-force winds batter the county tonight.
Extreme weather with winds of up to 80mph and potential flooding is predicted to hit as storm St Jude reaches Dorset.
As conditions worsened over the weekend, lifesavers warned people to stay away from the coast as emergency services were called out to weather-related incidents.
*A teenage swimmer was airlifted to hospital from Seatown after getting into difficulty
*A major search was launched to find a missing person believed to have been swept off the Cobb in Lyme Regis. It was stood down 90 minutes later when no-one appeared to be in difficulty. The Cobb was closed off and people were -urged to stay away.
*Travel has been disrupted across the county with ferry crossings cancelled and South West Trains advising people not to travel.
Emergency crews warned people to stay away from the coast as a stricken swimmer was rescued and a major rescue operation was launched following reports that a man had been swept out to sea from the Lyme Regis Cobb.
A Portland Coastguard spokesman said: “Don't even think about going in the sea.”
The 17-year-old swimmer, a holidaymaker, got into difficulty whilst swimming off Seatown beach today.
He was taken to Dorset County Hospital as a precautionary measure because he had ingested a lot of sea water, but was conscious in the helicopter, a spokesman said.
The spokesman added: “Nobody should be out swimming in these conditions.
“Don't even think about going in the sea.”
Last night's alert to a missing photographer off the Lyme Regis Cobb sparked a 90 minute search with the helicopter, RNLI lifeboat and a team of walkers deployed.
It came after holidaymakers believed they'd seen a man standing on the harbour wall, but when they looked back he was gone.
Teams were stood down at around 7.30pm and the search was not resumed today because authorities believe no one is missing.
Grahame Forshaw, Lyme Regis harbour master, said a number of individuals were separately taking photos of crashing waves on the Cobb on Saturday evening.
He said: “People thought they saw somebody fall over the wall.
“They were having a chat and as they looked across they saw a group of photographers, although not a formed group.
“They looked away, looked back again and they thought that one of the group was missing.
“So they had a walk around but they couldn't see anything.
“It was about 25 minutes from when they thought they saw someone fall in to when they raised the alarm.
“I came down here with the rest of the RNLI crew and the coastguard station decided to get the helicopter here.
“The helicopter was here within six to seven minutes.
“We put a team of walkers on the beach, another team of observers on the wall and the boat crew went out of the harbour about 300 metres and started searching.
“The helicopter completed three successive sweeps of the area and also over the main town beach, but nothing was found.
“Crews were stood down at around 7.30pm and the search lasted about 90 minutes.”
He warned people to stay away as the severe weather sets in.
He said: “We are closing off the Cobb as best we can. Just stay away and watch it on the TV.
“Don't come near the harbour. Don't go near the sea because it is just far too dangerous.”
A Portland Coastguard spokesman said: “The search has been stood down because there isn't anybody reported missing.
“Somebody thought they saw a man taking photos on the Cobb but when they next looked they couldn't see him.
“We have put out appeals for information but nothing has come back to suggest that someone is missing.”
The Environment Agency has issued a 'be prepared' warning for Chiswell, Portland, at high tide, between 6am and 8.45am.
It has also issued warnings for West Bay harbour and Lyme Regis harbour as winds between force seven and nine are expected along with 'very large waves and swell.'
It has asked residents to take notice of road signs, move cars to higher ground and pay attention to the siren if sounded.
RNLI crewmen were busy bringing yachts ashore in Lyme Regis harbour this afternoon before the hurricane hit.
A spokesman said they were 'prepared' for the severe weather.
Meanwhile Condor Ferries sailings from Weymouth to the Channel Islands were cancelled today and have been cancelled again for tomorrow.
Additional services will be run on the high-speed ferries on Tuesday and the company is contacting passengers to re-arrange sailing times.
South West Trains have told commuters not to travel tomorrow as it operates a reduce service in preparation for the storms.
It said it would be operating a significantly reduced timetable, with the majority of services not expected to run until at least 8am.
Across the network, trains will run at a maximum of 50mph as a safety measure in case of obstructions on the tracks.
This will result in extended journey times on services.
A spokesman for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance said: "Our advice to passengers is very clear- don't travel unless it is absolutely necessary.
"Weather forecasters have issued warnings of heavy rain and high winds over the next 24 hours and we expect the rail network to be affected by localised flooding, fallen trees and debris on the tracks."
VIDEO: People gather to watch waves off Portland Bill
DORSET Police are urging motorists to take extra care on the roads in the morning.
The AA has said falling trees or debris, gusts of wind and flooding could cause delays or hazards.
Darron Burness, head of the AA's flood rescue team, said: “Although the predicted storm may pass through fairly quickly, the impact could last much longer, depending on the damage caused.
“While flooding is a real threat with up to 50mm of rain predicted in some parts, our main concern is the very strong winds with gusts of more than 80 mph forecast.
“As well as the risk of tree and other debris on the roads, sudden gusts can push you off course or blow other vehicles into your path.
“Try to park your car in a safe place - ideally in a garage - and move any bins, garden furniture, hanging baskets or other items that could get blown into it. Clear any blocked drains by your property to help water drain away.
“This morning, keep tuned in to the weather and traffic reports and be prepared to delay your journey or make alternative travel plans.
“Driving conditions are likely to be pretty hazardous with a risk of serious disruption, so heed any local police advice about whether it's safe to travel.“Stay out of flood water, as it potentially puts lives at risk and ties up the emergency services.”
Met Office warning
A MET Office spokesman said: “A very intense low pressure system is forecast to run north-eastwards across the country early on Monday, bringing the potential for an exceptionally windy spell of weather for southern parts of the UK.
“At the same time, persistent, heavy rain could cause some surface water flooding.
“There is some continuing uncertainty in the timing, intensity and track of the low. However, the public should be prepared for the risk of falling trees as well as damage to buildings and other structures, bringing disruption to transport and power supplies.
“There is the potential for gusts of 60 to 80 mph quite widely and locally over 80 mph, especially on exposed coasts, both in south-westerly winds ahead of the low centre and west to north-westerly winds behind it.”
Storm St Jude
FORECASTERS say that ahead of the storm will be a large band of rain with as much as 30mm to 60mm falling over the south west.
As St Jude hits there will be severe 'damaging' gales, giving the risk of falling trees.
The storm has been named after the patron saint of lost causes, whose feast day is tomorrow.
Forecasters say that winds will die down on Tuesday and through Wednesday before increasing again on Wednesday evening through to the end of the week.
Prime Minister David Cameron has called a meeting with various government agencies to co-ordinate a response to what is predicted to be the worst storm to hit the UK since 1987.
Send your weather photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01305 830999
Comments are closed on this article.