Southern Britain was battered by 60mph winds yesterday as a storm swept in off the Atlantic, causing flooding, tidal surges and sporadic damage.
Waves of up to 40ft were reported off the Cornish coast and some Channel ferry services were cancelled because of high winds. Severe weather warnings were put in place across much of the south and southwest.
Cornwall and Devon appeared to bear the brunt of yesterday's storm. In Torquay a tidal surge swept up the beach, inundating a rank of council-owned beach huts. Amateur footage shows one hut floating out to sea after it was swept away. The stormy conditions also led to Tinside Lido on Plymouth's waterfront becoming submerged with seawater after rough seas breached its walls and flooded it. The pool will now have to be drained entirely, cleaned out and then refilled before the public will be able to use it over the summer.
Across southern England there were reports of more than 50 trees felled by the wind. Hampshire police said there were reports of trees down in the county but with no serious incidents or injuries. One driver escaped with minor injuries after several branches hit his van on the A35 at Lyndhurst yesterday morning. In West Sussex a teenage motorcyclist suffered serious head injuries during the early hours of Friday morning. Sussex Police appealed for witnesses to come forward but added they were unsure whether the windy weather was a factor. "At the time of the collision there was heavy rain and wind, but the cause of the collision is still being investigated and we cannot confirm that it occurred as a result of the weather," a spokesperson said. The second day of the Suffolk Show, an annual agricultural fair, was cancelled because of concerns over high winds. The show opened for about 15 minutes yesterday morning before a decision was taken to stop the event. Christopher Bushby, the show's executive director, said: "We have been advised of a severe weather warning, with force nine winds predicted."
The wet and dull weather looks set to continue over the weekend, but forecasters predict that the high winds will drop of significantly from today. Long-term forecasts predict that the rainy weather will continue throughout June, which could be problematic for Wimbledon which begins on 25 June.
Meteorologists said the unsettled weather was caused by the positioning of the jet stream bringing the kind of winds normally associated with autumn. BBC forecaster Laura Gilchrist said: "This weather would not be unusual in October or November, but as it's coming in June when the trees are more in leaf and people are carrying out more outdoor activities, there's more risk of disruption than at other times of the year."