Devon and Cornwall: Car washed into sea as Storm Ciaran hits

A car has been washed into the sea as Storm Ciaran brings strong winds and heavy rain to Devon and Cornwall.

Police said the unattended vehicle was washed into the sea at Sidmouth, Devon.

The Met Office has issued yellow and amber warnings for Wednesday night and Thursday - indicating potential risks to life and property.

Gusts of 62mph were recorded at 21:00 GMT on Wednesday at Berry Head, with 56mph in Newquay, 58mph at St Mary's and 43mph in Plymouth.

More than 200 schools will close or open late on Thursday, mostly in Devon.

Great Western Railway (GWR) said no trains would operate west of St Austell from 20:00 GMT on Wednesday until at least 12:00 on Thursday.

Network Rail warned of possible disruption in both counties.

'Weather bomb'

Meteorologists have confirmed that Storm Ciarán is a weather bomb, due to the explosive power of storms caused by a particularly rapid fall in pressure.

A weather bomb, or explosive cyclogenesis, is a term given by meteorologists to a storm that appears to intensify rapidly, with its central air pressure dropping at least 24 millibars (mb) in 24 hours.

Storm Ciarán is expected to see a pressure drop of 28mb in 24 hours.

David Braine, senior broadcast meteorologist for the BBC, said: "This development means that the storm will be at its most intense when it reaches the south west of England."

Tidal surges

A yellow warning for heavy rain will come into force in south-west England from 18:00 on Wednesday until 23:59 on Thursday, coupled with a yellow warning of "very strong and potentially damaging winds" from 21:00 on Wednesday and throughout Thursday.

An amber wind warning will also come into force from 03:00 until 11:00 on Thursday across the two counties.

The Met Office said very strong north-westerly winds could cause danger to life, travel disruption and structural damage.

Gusts of up to 90mph (145km/h) are expected on parts of the coast, especially the north coast, while gusts could reach about 70mph (115km/h) inland.

"Significant waves and tidal surges" will bring an increased risk of coastal flooding, with several flood warnings put in place by the Environment Agency.

Devon County Council confirmed to the BBC that it had issued advice to schools saying: "An emergency strategy meeting has taken place today and it was agreed that we need to ensure school leaders fully appreciate that the current weather warning presents a risk to life and could worsen...

"We are asking all schools to consider the high level of risk presented by this storm."

By 22:00, 221 schools in Devon had announced they would be closed on Thursday.

It added that the council had asked all staff to work from home where possible.

The authority also said it had "32 teams of tree surgeons and 12 emergency call-out gangs" on standby to help with the clear-up.

Cornwall Council said decisions to close "are always made by individual schools based on local conditions and health and safety risk assessments".

A spokesperson said: "The council recently shared the latest government guidance on dealing with cold and adverse weather conditions with all education settings and will continue to offer advice and support".

By 22:00, the council said 22 schools in Cornwall had would be closed on Thursday, with 30 opening later than usual.

'Severe Alert'

National Highways confirmed the planned closure of the A30 as part of ongoing upgrade works had been lifted due to weather forecast.

It has issued a severe weather alert for gales, with a significant risk to vehicles using motorways and major A roads in south-west England.

It warned gusts could reach 75mph (120km/h) on higher ground, particularly on the A30 around Camborne and Bodmin in Cornwall, and other higher-ground in Devon; and urged drivers to prepare.

Amy Shaw, national network manager, said: "In high winds, there's a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes, so we'd advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down and drive to the conditions.

"Drivers of other vehicles should be aware of sudden gusts of wind which can affect handling and braking."

Cornwall Airport Newquay said Eastern Airways had cancelled the 07:00 Newquay to Gatwick flight and the 09:30 Gatwick to Newquay flight on Thursday.

Check before travelling

Train operator GWR advised passengers not to travel in Cornwall from 20:00 on Wednesday until at least 12:00 on Thursday.

It also said disruption could continue later on Thursday and into Friday due to fallen trees and debris.

Passengers are advised to check its dedicated Storm Ciarán web page before travelling.

Network Rail advised passengers to allow extra time for their journeys.

Marcus Jones, western route director, also said: "If you live near the railway, please do remember that garden objects can end up on the tracks at any time if they're not secured."

Cornwall Council said the bad weather was likely to cause "significant disruption" and urged people to stay away from exposed coastal areas.

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