A NUMBER of flood alerts have been issued by the Environment Agency for Dorset ahead of Storm Ciara’s arrival this weekend which is set to bring winds of up to 75mph. 

Storm Ciara, which is currently making its way across the Atlantic, is set to hit on Sunday.

Flood alerts have now been issued for Poole Harbour, Christchurch Harbour and the east coast of Dorset, as well as the Lower Avon and tributaries from Ringwood to Christchurch.

The Environment Agency says high tides and strong winds associated with Storm Ciara will affect Poole Harbour from Saturday night and Christchurch and the east coast of Dorset from Sunday morning.

  • The flood alert for Poole Harbour is valid for the two hours around high tide at 9.15pm on Saturday and at 9.45am and 10pm on Sunday.
  • The flood alert for the east coast of Dorset is valid for two hours either side of high tide at 6.45am and 8pm on Sunday and at 10am on Monday.
  • While in Christchurch, the alert is in force for two hours either side of high tide at 9.30am and 10pm on Sunday and at 10.30am on Monday.

The Environment Agency said flooding of properties is not forecast at this point and its incident response staff are checking defences and liaising with emergency services.

For the Lower Avon and tributaries, the Environment Agency said: “The river level still remains high at the Ringwood Old Cottage river gauge as a result of the saturated ground conditions. Consequently, the risk of flooding remains. Areas most at risk are tributaries between Ringwood and Christchurch.

"A low pressure system is forecast on Saturday evening into Sunday bringing widespread rainfall. We expect river levels to respond and remain above the flood alert threshold.”

The RNLI is encouraging people to take extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.

Bournemouth-based forecaster UK Extreme Weather has said the county could see gusts of 65 to 75mph along the coast and 60 to 70mph inland.

Speaking on Twitter, the weather enthusiast said the strongest winds are expected between 12pm and 5pm although it would be "very windy all day."

They added: "Stay away from the sea as it’s a very high tide as well."

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for “very strong winds” from midnight on Saturday until midnight on Sunday.

The Met Office said injuries and danger to life from flying debris and large waves could be possible while some damage to buildings could also occur.

Road, rail, air and ferry services could also be affected, with potential for power cuts and disruption to mobile phone coverage.

Weather forecasting service MetDesk said Storm Ciara is set to bring “damaging” winds.

Posting on Twitter, MetDesk said: “Whilst this output is considered at the top end of what can be expected, the wind gusts associated with #StormCiara on Sunday look damaging. Two comparable storms to this would be Storm Doris in January 2017 and the severe gales of January 2007.”

Poole Lifeboat Station has urged people with boats in the harbour to make sure they are secured properly due to the incoming storm.

A spokesperson said: “The wind being forecast for Sunday 9th Feb is reaching storm force conditions.

“If you have boats on moorings in the harbour please make sure they are secured properly. Consider adding additional lines to ensure vessels don’t drift or break free.

“If you see someone in trouble dial 999 and ask for the coastguard. “

Network Rail has said a 50mph speed restriction has been planned for every line in the south east region which includes all lines heading to the coast from London Waterloo, London Victoria, London Charing Cross and London Bridge.

This will be in place from 11am until 7pm and disruption is expected to last at least until the end of the day and potentially into Monday morning too.

Passengers are urged to check before they travel on both days.

Operators affected include Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express, Southeastern and South Western Railway.