LATEST NEWS & PICTURES: Hurricane-force storm to hit the West
Storm force winds have hit the far West of the peninsula with reported speeds of over 100mph recorded on the Scillies.
Further east, in Plymouth, the Tamar Bridge was closed to high-sided vehicles and motorcycles, police said, as the region braced itself for a night of chaos.
For the latest on the St Jude storm click here
Devon and Cornwall Police earlier said protecting the public is its top priority as the region prepared for the worst storm in a decade.
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Hurricane force winds are due to hit the south coast in the early hours of tomorrow morning causing widespread disruption.
Heavy rain is also anticipated at causing localised flooding by what has being dubbed St Jude's Day storm, after the patron saint of lost causes whose feast day is tomorrow.
A command centre will open at police headquarters in Exeter this evening and run through the night into the morning.
Three local command centres will be set up in Truro, Plymouth and Exeter.
Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Taylor is coordinating activities for all agencies throughout the peninsula.
She said 110 extra staff had been called in and 58 special constables.
“We want to reassure the public that their safety is paramount and remains our absolute priority," she said.
"If anyone is at risk or in danger they should call 999 immediately.
“We would also ask the public to take personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of vulnerable neighbours as far as possible, as well as ensuring that they are prepared as they can be.
“We would ask the public to stay indoors if possible, stay up-to-date with the forecasts and not to venture out unless absolutely necessary.
"In particular we would urge people not to be tempted to put them or others at risk by heading out to coastal areas and harbours to watch the stormy seas as this is exceptionally dangerous in these weather conditions."
ACC Taylor said drivers traveling in the region should take extra care, particularly with a caravan or mobile home.
“We are anticipating significant travel disruption and ask people to plan ahead, add extra time for their journey and check first whether essential travel services are running.
"Driving conditions are expected to be very difficult due the risk of flash flooding, fallen trees and other debris. We ask drivers to slow down, take care and give other motorists plenty of space."
The Met Office escalated their storm warning from 'be aware' to 'be prepared'.
However, Martin Young, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said while it was expected to be severe, the weather would not be as wild as that experienced in 1987.
“While this is a major storm for the UK, we don’t currently expect winds to be as strong as those seen in the ‘Great Storm’ of 1987 or the ‘Burns Day storm’ of 1990.
“This weather system is typical of what we expect to see in winter but as it’s coming in during autumn – when trees are in leaf – and while the ground is fairly saturated, it does pose some risks. We could see some uprooted trees or other damage from the winds and there’s a chance of some surface water flooding from the rainfall – all of which could lead to some disruption.”
South West Trains is urging people not to travel tomorrow and says it is operating a substantially reduced timetable.
First Great Western says it is considering running an amended timetable.
UPDATE: Police have urged people to think twice before calling when the storm hits the Westcountry in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Inspector Simon Pawsey, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said anyone with an urgent matter should still call 999.
However, he said people should consider whether non-urgent matters could wait until the dust settles after the storm.
"It is business as normal for us and we will carry on with the service we provide," he said.
"We will be watching the weather forecast of course.
"If people have an urgent matter, they should ring 999 and we would encourage them to do that.
"If someone has a non-urgent matter and they feel it can wait until Monday, perhaps when things have settled down a bit, then that would be fine."
The storm is expected to bring with it hurricane strength winds and between 20mm and 40mm of rain in just a few hours.
Forecasters say it will begin battering the south of England at around 3am leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
It has been named the St Jude's Storm after the patron saint of lost causes, whose feast day is tomorrow.
Meanwhile the wild weather at the weekend claimed its first victim by wreaking havoc at the Masked Ball on a clifftop near Helston.
The organisers of the charity all-nighter were forced to turn people away as long queues developed.
Just before 10pm, they posted a message on Facebook saying heavy rainfall had turned the car parks into quagmires.
Then an hour later they posted another message saying they could not admit cars to the site at all.
PREVIOUSLY: The Met Office says it is now "confident" that the predicted storm gathering strength in the Atlantic will start blasting the Westcountry tonight
Hurricane force winds are expected to bring widespread disruption by Sunday evening and Monday morning when winds gusting up to 80mph and heavy rain hit the mainland.
The power of the storm could bring floods and power cuts, officials are warning.
Until now, the Exeter based Met Office had said there was a degree of "uncertainty" about the brewing storm.
However, the organisation said this afternoon that the question marks had evaporated and fierce weather which could be the worst for decades, is definitely coming this way.
Frank Saunders, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said: "We are confident that a severe storm will affect Britain on Sunday night and Monday.
"We are now looking at refining the details about which areas will see the strongest winds and the heaviest rain.
"This is a developing situation and we'd advise people to stay up to date with our forecasts and warnings over the weekend, and be prepared to change their plans if necessary.
"We'll continue to work closely with authorities and emergency services to ensure they are aware of the expected conditions."
Hurricane strength winds are set to batter Devon and Cornwall when a superstorm brewing in the Atlantic makes landfall tomorrow.
Forecasters have warned that the wild weather due to blast into the region on Sunday night could be one of the worst for 20 years.
According to the latest predictions, winds of up to 80 mph will lash the region, potentially causing trees to be uprooted and structural damage to buildings.
Meanwhile, torrential rain carried in by the winds has the potential to cause flooding.
People have also been advised to keep away from seafronts as gusting winds whip up huge waves which are expected to overtop along numerous quays and promenades in Devon and Cornwall.
The Exeter based Met Office has today widened the area which it says is on target to endure the atrocious weather.
Previously, the agency had said a fairly limited corridor of Southern England would be in the firing line.
However, the weather alert has been extended and now covers much of the South of England, most of Wales and even as far the Humber, although the northern reaches of the affected area will see less severe weather.
The Met Office described the storm as not one “you would see every year”, and said the expected wind strengths would be similar to storms in March 2008, January 2007 and October 2000.
Steve Willington, chief forecaster at the Met Office, said: “We are talking about a storm which doesn’t yet exist, so there remains some uncertainty about its possible timing, track and strength.
“However, several forecast models currently suggest we will see a significant storm with exceptionally strong winds impacting parts of England and Wales.
“This is a developing situation and we’d advise people to stay up to date with our forecasts and warnings over the weekend, and be prepared to change their plans if necessary.
“We’ll continue to work closely with authorities and emergency services to ensure they are aware of the expected conditions.”
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.
Gemma Plumb, forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “The first place that will see the strong winds will be south-west England, which could see gusts of 75-80mph.
“The storm will move north-eastwards, with winds of 60-70mph in the Midlands and East Anglia.
“Northern England and North Wales are looking at winds of 50-60mph.”
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said they had teams out working to minimise river flood risk, clearing debris from streams and unblocking culverts
“Seafronts, quaysides, jetties should be avoided due to the risk of overtopping by waves,” he added.
Meanwhile Martin Hobbs from the Highways Agency, urged drivers to take extra care, particularly if they were considering towing a caravan or behind the wheel of a high sided vehicle.
“Be aware of sudden gusts of wind, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and bicycles plenty of space,” he said.
The AA has warned of extensive travel disruption and urged drivers to take extra care.
Darron Burness, head of the AA’s flood rescue team, says: “If the predicted storm strikes, the timing couldn’t really be worse, potentially causing significant travel disruption on Monday morning, which is one of the busiest times on the roads.
“Strong wind and torrential rain is an unpredictable and hazardous combination, which can be quite overwhelming when you’re driving.”
The storm is expected to lead to widespread disruption on Monday morning.
Brittany Ferry sailings between Plymouth, France and Spain have been forecast.
The ferry between Penzance and the Scilly Isles has also been cancelled.