High winds and heavy rain predicted overnight as Environment Agency issues flood alerts for region.

THE Environment Agency has issued a number of low level flood alerts for tonight (Sun) and tomorrow morning.

The upper and lower River Torridge, the River Taw, and rivers in the Barnstaple, Braunton, Combe Martin and Ilfracombe areas are all on alert.

As North Devon remains on standby for the arrival of the Atlantic 'St Jude' storm tonight, gusts of up to 80mph are predicted.

The area remains under an amber weather warning for wind and motorists have been advised of delays during rush hour tomorrow morning.

Police warning

The police are asking the public to keep safe and be prepared for the weather, and have set up a command centre tonight at police headquarters in Exeter.

Assistant chief constable Sharon Taylor, from Devon and Cornwall Police, is coordinating activities for all agencies throughout the peninsular.

She said: "We want to reassure the public that their safety is paramount and remains our absolute priority. 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."

The news comes as visitors are set to enter the region for the half term break, and those with caravans are urged not to travel until the winds have subsisded.

Travel safety

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has also warned motorists of the dangers of driving through floodwater.

Area commander Nick Manning said: "It is impossible for motorists to tell how deep water is or the condition of the ground beneath. There is a significant risk to life if motorists become stranded.

"We recommend that people do not make non-essential journeys tonight or tomorrow morning if they live in areas prone to flooding.

"If they do see floodwater on the road, they should not attempt to drive through it but should try to find an alternative route.

"And if a road has been closed, it is for the safety of the public and closure signs should be respected."

Keep up to date with the latest weather updates on the Gazette website.