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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 December 2007, 19:50 GMT
South of England storm dying down
Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth
Nigel Hall sent this picture of Boscombe Pier to the BBC website
Severe gales with gusts of over 70mph which struck the south coast of England have subsided, say coastguards.

A spokesman for Solent coastguard said: "For a short period the wind went up to about 73mph but now it is down to around 20mph."

The storm, which felled trees, and caused flooding and power cuts in Devon, peaked at around 4pm GMT.

A father and his nine-year-old son who were swept away by a rain-swollen Devon river were rescued by firemen.

Meanwhile, a St John Ambulance Crew in Surrey had a lucky escape after strong winds blew a poplar tree on top of their vehicle.

The tree badly damaged the roof and back doors of the vehicle but the four people inside were unhurt.

Ray Pennock, who was treating his son-in-law's sprained ankle at Esher Rugby Club when the ambulance was struck, said: "You've never seen four St John people get out of an ambulance so quickly in your life."

'Incredibly well forecast'

A spokeswoman for Solent Coastguard told the BBC website earlier that conditions were perilous for leisure boats.

Veronica Taylor, watch officer at the coastguard, said: "Anybody who goes out on a boat who doesn't know what they are doing is risking life and limb, if you do it in these conditions it is significantly more dangerous."

But Solent Coastguard now say that there were "no problems at sea" despite the bad conditions.

"The severity of the weather was incredibly well forecast", Miss Taylor said.

"We always encourage people to take notice of the weather conditions - and that's exactly what they have done," she added.

An air and sea search was started this morning after a woman was reported missing from an Isle of Wight ferry during the bad weather.

However the search was called off and police are investigating the possibility she may have left the boat by car.

Surf

During Saturday night, the Isles of Scilly were struck by 70mph winds and waves of more than 40ft (12m) were recorded off the Atlantic coast.

The English Channel saw waves of 25ft (7.6m) from strong winds blowing from the Atlantic.

But some surfers have capitalised on the conditions, defying warnings to ride what are thought to be the biggest waves recorded off the west coast of Ireland.

Waves estimated at 55ft (16.7m) high bore down on the coast at Mullagmore Head in Donegal Bay on Saturday.

SEE ALSO
Woman missing from ferry in gales
02 Dec 07 |  Hampshire
Surfer defies giant waves alert
01 Dec 07 |  Cornwall

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