STORM Dennis is set to hit Dorset this weekend just a week after Storm Ciara caused disruption across the county.

Gusts of up to 50mph are expected inland, while winds of between 60 and 70mph are “likely” along the coasts.

The Met Office says the strongest winds are expected this afternoon and tonight, with a “lull” overnight, before they pick up again early on Sunday.

A yellow alert for strong winds will be in force from 10am today until 12pm on Sunday.

While a warning for “very heavy rain” will be in place from 12pm today until 9pm tomorrow.

The Met Office has said homes and businesses could be flooded, spray and flooding could lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures and power cuts could also occur.

Some delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport are also likely.

A spokesperson for the Met Office said: “Strong winds in association with Storm Dennis are expected on Saturday and Sunday across many parts of England and Wales. The strongest winds are likely to be on Saturday afternoon and evening, with a lull for a time overnight, before increasing again during early Sunday. Gusts of 50 mph are expected inland.

“Around the coasts, especially in the west and south, gusts of 60-70 mph are likely. The strong winds will be accompanied by heavy rain at times, leading to particularly poor driving conditions.”

According to the Met Office forecast, heavy rain is expected from 11am today until 3pm tomorrow.

Twitter-based forecaster Dorset Snow said as much as 40 t0 50mm of rainfall is set to fall on “already saturated ground.

The incoming storm has prompted the Environment Agency to warn of a possible five-day flood risk.

A spokesperson said: “Storm Dennis will bring widespread, heavy and persistent rain over the weekend. River and surface water flooding is probable for parts of Wales, the north of England and parts of south and central England.”

Flood alerts have been issued for the east coast of Dorset, Lower Avon and tributaries, Lower Frome and tributaries.

Bournemouth Echo:

For the east coast of Dorset, the Environment Agency said: “We believe there is a possibility of flooding for Castletown, Weymouth, Preston Beach, Swanage Bay, Studland Bay, Sandbanks, Poole Harbour, Bournemouth Beach, Hengistbury Head and Christchurch Harbour.

“Please be careful along beaches, promenades, coastal footpaths and roads and stay away from exposed areas of coastline. Keep away from cliffs as cliff falls are more likely in these conditions.”

For the Lower Avon and tributaries, the Environment Agency says the areas most at risk are "tributaries between Ringwood and Christchurch."

A spokesperson said: "Storm Dennis is forecast to bring heavy rainfall over the weekend and river levels are expected to rise further in response to this rainfall. Avoid using low lying footpaths near local watercourses.