Batten down the hatches!
The innocuously named Storm Imogen has been terrorising the UK coast over the past 24 hours, unleashing a barrage of rough seas and fierce winds often in excess of 80 mph.
The Met Office says sea conditions in the “phenomenal” bracket — the highest level on the World Meteorological Scale, reserved for waves of more than 14m (46ft) — have been observed at several points offshore, while the BBC reports that 19.1 metre (63 ft) waves have been measured off the Cornish coast, although it doesn’t specify exactly where. In any case, they will hardly have been of the rideable variety.
Meanwhile winds have reached 81mph on the Isles of Scilly, 84mph in Pembrey Sands on the Welsh coast, and as much as 96mph at the Needles off the Isle of Wight.
19,000 homes were at one point cut off from the power grid yesterday, and most of those that remain without power are in Cornwall and Devon, the two worst affected areas. All train services in and out of Cornwall have been cancelled after a tree fell on the line near Bodmin, and an RSPCA officer remains missing after he attempted to rescue dozens of sea birds at Porthchapel Beach, near Penzance. Wales too has been badly hit; the day’s funniest story unfolded near Pontypridd following the collapse of a special bridge designed to help dormice cross the Church Village by-pass. Dormice are protected under EU habitat regulations, but the erection of the £190,000 bridge, consisting of wire mesh tubes suspended between trees and tall poles, had been criticised by many as an unnecessary expense. It landed on the windscreen of a passing car, leading to lengthy traffic jams.