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UPDATE: Roads closed and county on high alert as more flooding expected
DORSET was on high alert again today as a combination of gale-force winds and high tides were expected to cause more flooding.
The A35 is blocked in both directions at the B3150 Stinsford Hill due to a fallen tree.
Preston Beach Road in Weymouth has now been re-opened after it was closed earlier this morning after the Environment Agency issued a severe flood warning. It is expected to close again later at the next high tide at 5.45pm.
Commercial Road has also been reopened after being closed earlier due to flooding. A Dorset Police spokeswoman said officers will remain on scene to monitor the situation.
Both the A352 Dorchester Road between the Burton Road junction and the East Knighton Lane junction and the West Stafford bypass are still closed due to flooding.
The Highways Agency is warning drivers to check forecasts and road conditions before setting out on their journeys today.
Occupants of properties in the Preston Beach area were warned to be prepared to evacuate at short notice.
Numerous flood warnings are in place for rivers and harbours. Agencies were particularly monitoring Weymouth Esplanade, Chiswell on Portland and West Bay Harbour, all areas said to be ‘at risk’.
People are being urged to stay away from the coast and resist the urge to ‘wave watch’.
Dorset Police and other agencies urged residents to prepare for the adverse weather and advised that ‘extreme care’ be taken in coastal areas.
A spokesman for the Met Office said: “Tides will be very high, and the public should be aware of the risks of large waves and coastal flooding.”
It follows flooding misery which has seen Dorset battered over Christmas and into the new year.
More heavy rain and high winds will sweep across Dorset today as the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning. Gale force 8-10 winds were expected to hit the South West coast.
In preparation for the latest extreme weather, Dorset County Council is urging motorists to take care on the roads.
Condor Ferries cancelled sailings to the Channel Islands today due to the weather.
In North Dorset, firefighters had to rescue a woman from her car, after she became trapped in floodwater near Marnhull on Wednesday evening. On the same night, rescuers worked in appalling weather conditions as they searched for a man who is believed to have fallen into the River Stour near Iford Bridge, Christchurch. A tree hanging above the railway line at Sway in the New Forest led to disruption on the Weymouth-Waterloo line yesterday.
Looking ahead, there are expected to be wide widespread problems on the roads, when many people return to work on Monday after the Christmas break, following more heavy rain which is likely to hit Dorset on Sunday.
DCC highways winter service group manager Martin Hill urged motorists to heed all road closure signs, and plan their journeys in advance.
He said: “We have had a number of instances over the holidays where people have ignored these signs, or even removed them, and driven into heavily flooded areas.
“Even if they don’t damage their vehicles, the waves they make while going through the water can end up washing into people’s gardens and even their properties.”
He added: “Signs are there for a reason. People need to allow more time for their journeys at the moment, especially on Sunday and Monday, and find alternative routes to avoid flooded areas.”
South West Flood Executive at the Environment Agency Emma Baker said: “We are expecting coastal flooding from the early hours of Friday and into the weekend.
“We’d ask everyone to keep themselves informed about the latest situation and to keep themselves safe by keeping away from seafronts and resisting the urge to wave watch.”
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