Storm force battering begins
STORMS tore their way across the Westcountry overnight with winds of up to 80mph damaging trees and causing flooding in some areas.
As heavy rain coupled with storm force 11 winds continued to lash Devon and Cornwall, forecasters at the Met Office in Exeter and Environment Agency bosses issued severe weather warnings.
A Met Office spokesman said: "We'll see up to force 11 winds over the weekend, gusting along the south coast at speeds of between 75-80mph. Rain across the moorland areas of Devon and Cornwall will see 60-70 mm of rainfall.
"Because the winds are so high, we'll see branches and possibly trees coming down and tiles coming off roofs. The worst of the weather will have passed by Saturday morning,"
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By this afternoon, winds should have dropped significantly and there should be showers with some sunshine. Tomorrow will also see a few showers, sunshine and breezy winds.
But strong winds would reappear by Monday, said the Met Office.
Environment Agency chiefs said the heavy rainfall could cause some rivers to rise quickly and put local communities at risk of flooding today.
A spokesman said: "The rainfall could also lead to some localised flooding from run-off and drains unable to cope with the increased volumes of water. Environment Agency officers are also in close communication with local authorities and emergency services should there be any surface water flooding.
"These bands of rain could cause problems and we would urge people who live in homes that are vulnerable to flooding to start thinking about taking precautions to protect their properties."
Yesterday evening, the Tamar Bridge was closed to motorcycles and high-sided vehicles including lorries, causing long tailbacks of traffic.
Brittany Ferries cancelled sailings from Plymouth to Roscoff and Poole to Cherbourg because of the severe weather.
The King Harry Ferry, near Truro, was also stopped because of high winds. At Penzance, the high tide coupled with strong winds saw massive waves crashing over the sea wall.
At Padstow harbour, North Cornwall, firefigthers were called to the Harbour pub after the building was flooded at about 2pm damaging the electrics. Fire crews helped to clear the drains until Highways Agency bosses arrived.
Tuckingmill, near Camborne, and Crantock and Perranporth near Newquay were also hit by floods.
In Fore Street, Exeter, high winds ripped Christmas lights down, bringing large chunks of masonry down just after 7pm. Firefighters sealed off the area.
A silver birch tree collapsed on to the roof of a house in Silver Birch Close, Burnthouse Lane, Exeter, last night.
Firefighters hacked away one section of the tree and brought it to the ground using a large axe, saw, hand tools and extension ladder.
Ten minutes later a 20-foot television aerial was blown into a dangerous position on top of a house at Albany Street, Devonport, Plymouth, and was left hanging by only a wire.
Firefighters lowered the aerial to the ground using the aerial ladder platform.
A roof was blown off a house at Sector Lane, Axminster, at about 8.30pm leaving rainwater pouring through the property. No occupants were injured.
Devon County Council's highways staff and contractor, South West Highways, were clearing gullies and road drainage on main routes and at known flooding areas where possible.
A windsurfer who got into difficulties at Bigbury, near Kingsbridge, Devon, was helped by Coastguard rescue teams from Bigbury, Hope Cove and Yealm.
Anyone concerned about the weather should call the Floodline on 08459 881188.
Click here to see the Met Office forecast.