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STORM ST JUDE: Clean-up operation underway in Dorset
DORSET is clearing up after one of the worst storms in recent years.
Hurricane-strength winds battered the Dorset coastline as the storm, nicknamed St Jude, ripped across the UK on Sunday night and Monday morning leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
Waves smashed against the beaches and cliffs of the Jurassic Coast and inland trees were ripped up and flung across the roads.
The fastest winds recorded were on Portland where gusts of 97mph were racing across the harbour.
The storm caused major disruption during the Monday morning rush hour as fallen trees blocked train lines and trees and debris fell across the Weymouth Relief Road on the Ridgeway, close to the turning to Winterborne Monkton.
The road was closed until just before noon yesterday with drivers taking alternate routes.
South West Train services faced major disruption as dozens of people waited at Weymouth train station to see when the service to Waterloo would be resumed.
They advised people not to travel and said that all single and return tickets dated for Monday would be able to be used today instead.
On Portland a tree came down in Easton Square hitting a parked car and a tree also hit a car on Herringston Road in Dorchester. Part of the road was closed throughout yesterday while council workers cleared up the debris.
Resident Sheila Purkiss leapt into action and decided to help with the clean-up effort.
She said: "Luckily no one was hurt but one branch snapped off and crashed into my neighbour’s car.
“We were woken up by a loud bang and the sound of the car alarm going off. It’s just one of those things that happen, it could have been worse if someone had been injured.”
In Weymouth a tree came down by a house on Dorchester Road and one also came down close to Willowbed Hall in Chickerell.
Elsewhere across the county trees partially blocked roads in Corfe Castle, Bere Regis, Grimstone, Dorchester, Bridport, Lyme Regis and Winterborne Herringston.
There was also some localised flooding in Portland at Victoria Square, with heavy surface water across Portland Beach Road, flooding in Newstead Road, Weymouth and in South Walks Dorchester.
The worst of the storm is now over and the week ahead will be blustery with sunshine and showers.
Weymouth weatherman Bob Poots said that he had recorded 35.1mm of rain over the 24 hour storm period in Wyke Regis, with the strongest winds reaching 69knots.
He said: “We’ve seen the worst of it. The winds are dropping down quite a lot now.”
He added that apart from the last couple of days, October had been a pretty average month.
Dorchester weatherman John Oliver said he recorded gusts of 56mph in the county town at 5am. He said it was the strongest winds they had experienced since 2006. Dorchester got 36mm of rain in the 24-hour period and around 30mm fell with the storm.
He said: “It was a really developed storm and it was developing as it went across the UK. So it had much more of a punch to it.”
He added: “It’s going to be an unstable and blustery week- nothing more than we would expect in late autumn
Sea warning as coast battered
PEOPLE are being urged to stay away from the sea as huge waves continue to batter the coast.
The storm may be over but visitors to the Jurassic Coast are being urged to take care.
RNLI spokesman Ken Francis said: “Obviously where there is breaking waves people should stay well clear and not put themselves in danger.”
The warning comes after lifesavers had to swing into action across the weekend after a swimmer was rescued near Seatown and a search was started following reports that a man had been swept into the sea at Lyme Regis.
The 90-minute search by the Portland helicopter, lifeboat and walkers was started after passers-by believed they saw a man on the harbour wall and when they looked back a minute later he was gone.
Teams were stood down on Saturday and not restarted as the authorities believe that no one is missing.
They put out appeals for information but no one has been reported missing.
Ancient willows fall as wind sweeps reserve
TWO old willows fell to the storm at the RSPB reserve in Weymouth.
The trees toppled under the fierce winds and several smaller ones also succumbed.
Luke Phillips, the Weymouth information officer at the site, said they had experienced some flooding at one of the bird hides but that it was not unusual.
He said: “We haven’t been round the more inaccessible bits but we have at least six trees down. They include a couple of really big old willow trees. It’s a shame as they give a bit of extra character to the reserve.”
The willows were chopped up and turned into log piles on the reserve for different habitats.
Mr Phillips said: “Now the tree is gone we can still turn it into something that’s of benefit to the wildlife in the reserve.”
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