Southern England and Wales was hit by a stormy weather system that developed off the west coast of the United Kingdom over the weekend, with heavy rain and winds of up to 100 mph (160 kmph) causing flooding, building damage and disruption to transport infrastructure. According to a forecaster from MeteoGroup UK, the storm was the strongest to hit Britain this year and was fed by warm autumn sea temperatures.
In southern England, Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Kent were reported as being the worst-affected areas.
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Reports said that wind gusts of 100 mph (160 kmph) were recorded at the Needles on the Isle of Wight, while Southampton was hit by winds of 59 mph (94 kmph). Over the weekend, the Environment Agency had eight flood warnings in place across England and Wales.
Sea transport was disrupted across Southern England, with the port of Dover being closed just after midday on November 14 due to high winds with reports of waves as high as 36 feet (11 meters) battering sea defences. In addition, Kent police closed the Dartford river crossing, Sheppey crossing and the Medway bridge due to the hazardous conditions.
Around 60 homes were damaged in the town of Benfleet in Essex, where a tornado strike had been reported by local residents. Fire crews who assessed damage said that TV aerials and roof tiles had been removed, although a further 8 homes suffered more serious damage. There was a further report of a tornado strike in Lowestoft, Suffolk, where a woman was hospitalised after a tree fell on her car. Elsewhere in Southern England, there were incidents reported in connection with lightning strikes in Horsham and Crawley in West Sussex. In addition, people had to be rescued from an industrial estate in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, after being flooded by about 2 feet (60 cm) of water.
Flash floods were triggered in coastal areas of southern Britain, and many motorists had to be rescued from flooded cars. Three oil rig workers had to be rescued by a lifeboat after their supply boat ran aground at Ness Point, Britain’s most easterly point.
Elsewhere in Britain, West Wales was worst-hit by the storm on Friday and Saturday (November 13 and 14), with fire-crews reportedly receiving around 140 flood-related calls, mainly in Pembrokeshire. Wind-gusts reportedly reached around 70 mph (113 kmph) in some coastal areas. Environment Agency Wales reported 23 flood warnings and a further 34 flood watches were enforced for many rivers. Sea transport was also disrupted with the cancellation of several ferry services.
According to reports, West Wales was particularly badly affected and fire crews were called to flooding in Swansea, Carmarthen and Tenby. Mid and West Wales fire services reportedly responded to a number of incidents, including rescues from flooded vehicles and houses.
Environment Agency Wales and the Met Office warned people living in coastal areas to be aware of high tides, strong winds and the issue of coastal flood warnings.
Sources: Associated Press, BBC News, Sunday Mirror, Xinhua News Agency.
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