DEVASTATING storms struck Dorset decimating vast swathes of the coast, felling trees, ripping up pavements and flooding roads.

Violent winds up to 70mph hit Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch on Friday night and Saturday morning, with 30ft waves reported in Milford-on-Sea as a major incident was declared across the area.

Christchurch Quay – which had a severe flood warning – Shore Road in Sandbanks and beaches across the area were all under water as the tidal surge hit shores across the area, destroying beach huts, and battering flood defences.

More than 19,000 people were left without power on Saturday with engineers from Southern Electric forced to call in help from other areas.

Bournemouth Council closed both piers including Boscombe on Saturday and urged people to avoid the seafront due to the extent of the damage to the shore and beach huts.

People were evacuated from their homes in Mudeford, Christchurch and Iford and emergency centres were set-up including one at The Grange School to look after residents.

Emergency services and council workers continued rescue efforts through Friday night and over the weekend, with the Army called in to help clean up in Christchurch.

A Dorset police spokesman said they dealt with 200 weather-related incidents – nearly double the amount of last year – in just over a 10-hour period from 7pm on Friday until 5.20am on Saturday.

More than 100 trees came down across the area with one severing a gas main in Wimborne.

There was significant flooding at Christchurch with eight to 15 properties over the East Dorset and Christchurch areas, in particular Stony Lane, reported as having standing water.

Dr Richard Wild from WeatherNet said wind speeds reached nearly 70mph at Bournemouth Airport at 10pm on Friday and 60mph at 1am on Saturday.

The rainfall in Bournemouth on Friday was believed to be one of the highest in the country, certainly the highest in Dorset with 35mm falling in total and 6.6mm between 11am and noon on Friday.

There is a yellow rain warning from The Met Office for today but Dr Wild said his 16-day forecast was not showing any storms for that period – just a couple of spells of gusty wea-ther.

View all the pictures and storm coverage online at bourne mouth dorset weather.