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St Jude's storm warnings for Worcestershire
WORCESTERSHIRE is being urged to “batten down the hatches” as the worst storm to hit the county in years continues.
There are fears winds of up to 80mph could wreak havoc across the county today, with forecasters warning trees could be brought down and structures damaged, as well as widespread flash flooding.
Worcestershire has been issued with an Amber alert for wind as what the Met Office described as a “major Atlantic storm”, dubbed St Jude after the patron saint of lost causes, hits the UK.
The worst gales were due in the early hours and during the Monday morning rush hour, but heavy persistent rain could also lead to localised flooding, surface water and widespread travel chaos as people make their way to work.
Paul Michaelwaite, from Netweather.tv, based in Pershore, urged people to “batten down the hatches”.
“It could be really quite horrific,” he said.
“With 60 to 80mph winds, that’s certainly plenty enough to bring down trees and cause structural damage to buildings.
“It’s going to sweep in quite quickly and the centre of it probably won’t be too far from us.”
And the rainfall coming with the storm could also cause problems, he said.
“Rain will be heavy and persistent throughout much of the day with upwards of 25 to 50 millimetres of rain causing surface water on the roads and localised flooding,” Mr Michaelwaite said.
“Some of it could be really quite torrential.”
The bad weather came early to parts of the county on Saturday, with two adults and a child having to be rescued from a car stuck in floodwater near Droitwich.
Firefighters from Droitwich and a water first responder team from Pershore were called just after 12.40pm to the Shell ford, Himbleton, and found a car stuck in water up to the top of its wheel arches.
And yesterday, two fire crews were called to Worcester Bridge after reports of a woman canoeist getting into difficulty. She was rescued before they arrived.
Meanwhile, Worcestershire County Council officers have been monitoring conditions over the weekend and additional highways teams, including gulley emptiers and tree removal contractors, have been monitoring flooding hotspots.
Frank Saunders, chief forecaster at the Met Office, said people should be prepared to change their plans if necessary as the storm hit.
“We’ll continue to work closely with authorities and emergency services to ensure they are aware of the expected conditions,” he said.
Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed he had spoken to services responsible for public safety ahead of the storm.
Atlantic storms of this type usually develop further west across the ocean, losing strength by the time they reach the UK and Ireland.
But this is expected to appear much closer to land, potentially moving across the country while in its most powerful phase.
A strong jet stream and warm air close to the UK are contributing to its development and strength.
West Mercia Police has warned drivers not to make unnecessary journeys.
Chief Superintendent Amanda Blakeman said: “It’s likely that the bad weather will cause major disruption on the roads during rush hour.
“Forecasters predict the high winds could cause trees and power lines to come down and also say there’s a danger high-sided vehicles, caravans and trailers could be blown over.
“I would urge residents and motorists to continue to listen to weather forecasts and local radio for the latest updates, and not to travel on the roads tomorrow morning unless absolutely necessary.”
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