Storm chaos in Dorset as roads flood and trees topple - part of A31 and A35 closed as more chaos predicted (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Storm chaos in Dorset as roads flood and trees topple - part of A31 and A35 closed as more chaos predicted
GALE force winds and downpours lashed Dorset yesterday as Christmas shoppers battled the elements.
This morning the A35 is closed because of a fallen tree between the Bakers Arms and Bere Regis and part of the A31 was also shut westbound betwen the Canford Bottom roundabout and Merley for the same reason.
Dorset firefighters responded to around 240 999 calls, all weather related and helped rescue more than dozens motorists trapped in floodwaters. Most of the incidents happened in North Dorset.
No trains were expected to be running until 10am this morning as chaos struck the great Christmas getaway.
South West Trains said more than 40 fallen trees and six areas of flooding had caused severe disruption and urged people to travel only if it was absolutely necessary.
Power remains out in Burley and electricity company officials were called off last night as the conditions were too dangerous.
Drivers out and about this morning were warned to take extra care because of the large amount of standing surface water.
Yesterday motorists faced delays across the county during the day as trees fell and rivers broke their banks in a tempest “equal to Storm St Jude”.
And in busy shopping areas, there were yet more queues as thousands attempted to finish their festive preparations.
Although the weather is expected to improve from 6am today, forecaster Kevin Taylor, of Dorset Weather, warned that storms could return on Friday.
“There should be vast improvements on Tuesday, with showers and even some sunshine, but it's looking nasty again towards the end of the week,” he said.
“On Monday, wind speeds of up to 76 miles per hour were reached in Poole, so it was very fierce across the county. It was similar to the St Jude storm, although that had a lot more hype. In fact, the weather today has affected far more people and been more widespread than that.”
Trees were the main casualty of howling winds that Dorset's Coastguard teams said reached storm force 10 on the Beaufort scale.
David Money, who owns Rave Hair and Beauty at 203 Ashley Road in Poole, watched in horror as a huge tree next to his business toppled slowly into the road.
“It was about two metres away from us,” he said.
“It fell incredibly slowly, and fortunately there was no one in the road at the time. It has been ripped up by the roots.”
Borough of Poole officials decided to cut down a second tree in Ashley Road after deciding it was dangerous to the public.
But even those who stayed inside to avoid high winds were affected, including 47-year-old Vincent Blood, who saw a 15-metre birch tree in a neighbour's garden plummet to the ground - narrowly missing his home.
Mr Blood, who lives in Elgin Road, Talbot Woods, said: “I was in my front room and I heard a loud bang.
“I thought that maybe something had blown over outside - then I looked out of the window and thought, 'The view's a bit different'.”
He said that if the winds had been blowing in from a slightly different angle, the tree could have plunged into his bathroom.
“It was lucky really,” he said.
But the storm also brought others together.
A 60-foot pine tree that toppled from the garden of Laurel Cottage B&B in Upton into Policeman's Lane was cleared by a passing tree surgeon.
The owner of the property, John Farrar, said it was an “amazing coincidence” that Ian Hall was the first on the scene, and the two rolled up their sleeves to clear the road within an hour.
Fallen trees were not the only problems plaguing Dorset residents following the bad weather.
Many were left without power in their homes following the storm.
Around 900 properties in the New Forest, and houses in villages across Purbeck, were affected by a blackout.
In Lillington, near Sherborne, two elderly people became trapped in rising flood waters.
A Dorset Fire and Rescue spokesperson said: “A fire crew from Sherborne rescued two occupants of a private saloon car.
“They had become stuck in their vehicle in bad conditions.”
Two people escaped without injury after a DAF truck overturned on Whiteway Hill, an MoD road between East Lulworth and Corfe Castle.
The road was closed in both directions throughout the afternoon after the seven-and-a-half tonne vehicle fell, as the weather was too stormy for it to be recovered.
And despite ferocious sea swells, both Brittany Ferries and the Sandbanks Ferry continued to operate as normal.
However, Poole's Twin Sails Bridge cancelled its scheduled lifts because of the high winds, although it remained open to vehicles.
Both Morebus and Yellow Buses services also suffered delays because of road conditions.
ASDA HIT BY CAR PARK QUEUES
SHOPPERS buying their Christmas dinners at ASDA in Bournemouth faced huge delays yesterday as tempers flared.
Paul Levinson, of Glenferness Avenue, said he sat in his car for almost two hours while desperate motorists attempted to leave the superstore.
Yesterday's storm and the number of people buying food ahead of Christmas Day are thought to be to blame for the queues.
Mr Levinson said: “I was sat in my car for an hour and 55 minutes as I tried to leave.
“That time was just spent leaving the car park. It was horrendously, unbelievably busy.”
Many loaded three or more trolleys with goods at the store in the pre-Christmas dash.
“It actually moved quickly in the shop, and there wasn't a problem there,” said Mr Levinson.
“It was only afterwards when people were trying to get back onto the roundabout that there was an issue. I put in calls to management at ASDA but didn't hear back, and I even called the police, but in the end we just had to sit there. It was like a nightmare.”
POLICE URGE MOTORISTS TO DRIVE CAREFULLY
DORSET Police has issued advice to communities as the weather warning remains in force into today.
In severe high winds and heavy rain, motorists are advised:
· Not to travel unless you have to
· Keep your distance from other vehicles
· Keep your speed down - sudden gusts of wind can blow you off course
· Leave extra time to get to your destination
· Show consideration for other motorists, especially when confronted with delays and/or blocked roads
· When visibility is reduced switch on your headlights
In the event of flooding, drivers are advised to:
· Exercise caution when approaching standing water on the roads
· Give consideration to the depth of the water
· Do not take any risks driving through flood waters
· Drive through shallow water slowly and be aware of the effect of waves on other road users
Officers are also advising members of the public to secure their property including items such as garden furniture, wheelie bins, and any other objects that might be dangerous in high winds.
ROADS BLOCKED AS TREES TOPPLE
Blocked roads in the county yesterday as the result of the storm:
· Bradford Abbas, Sherborne - fallen tree blocked entire road near Coombe Cottages
· Queen's Park West Drive, Bournemouth - reports of fallen trees in the area
· Ashley Road, Poole - fallen tree partially closes road
· Knyveton Road, Bournemouth - tree falls close to junction with Christchurch Road
· Western Avenue, Talbot Woods - large tree branch in road
· Briantspuddle, Purbeck - cables blocking road
· Bakers Arms Roundabout, Poole - road blocked by deep flood water
· Whiteway Hill, Wareham - road closed after seven-and-a-half tonne DAF truck overturns between East Lulworth and Corfe Castle
· A350 Blandford Road, Iwerne Minster - road closed both ways between Higher Street and A30 Christy's Lane in Shaftesbury during the evening because of flooding
· Uddens Drive, Wimborne - closed in both directions at the A31 junction during the evening because of flooding
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