A 100 mile an hour storm is to batter Hampshire this weekend raising fears of flooding across the Winchester district.
Commuters were warned to expect major travel disruption with the Met Office predicting a “significant weather event” will sweep in on Friday with torrential rain and gales of up 100 mph lashing the south coast.
This has prompted the Met Office to issue its amber alert amid fears that trees will fall on power lines, roads and train lines with the downpours falling on already saturated ground.
This morning the city council warned that parts of Winchester city centre close to the River Itchen are at risk of flooding over the coming days.
Residents and businesses are being advised to check the Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk and to make preparations in case flooding occurs.
Properties in Water Lane today have water lapping close to their front doors for the second time in two weeks.
Sandbags are at the ready to hold back the flood. Water is covering much of The Weirs. Barriers closing the path have been pushed aside and pedestrians are still using the route.
Householders or businesses needing particular can contact the council on 01962 840222.
Council staff have been monitoring and adjusting the sluice at Durngate to control water levels downstream. The maximum amount of water is now flowing as fast as possible through the River Itchen and further increases in water levels may lead to unavoidable flooding.
The council distributed additional sandbags provided by Hampshire County Council yesterday. Efforts are being carefully targeted, with sandbags being provided to properties at which there is a known flood risk. The situation will be reviewed again this morning.
Meanwhile South West Trains is poised to impose speed restrictions on major services through Hampshire.
The transport operator is set to enforce a 50mph speed limit between 10am and 7pm on some routes likely to be the worst affected.
These are services from Winchester to Weymouth via Southampton, Bournemouth and Poole, from Southampton to Portsmouth via Swanick service and from Southampton to Salisbury via Romsey.
Trains between London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour via Eastleigh services will also be cancelled in both directions. They were already diverting via Swanwick due to a landslip at Botley.
Replacement buses will operate between Fareham and Southampton Airport Parkway will remain in operation.
Trains will be running between Portsmouth and Southampton via Swanwick.
Extra staff will be on duty at stations while tree removal teams are on standby to clear any fallen trees.
Test trains were also ran overnight to check for and clear obstructions on the line.
A spokesman for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance said: “The continued heavy rain and flooding in the south west has put increased pressure on our rail network. The recent forecasts, which have come on top of the wettest January for a century, present an increased risk of further flooding, landslips and falling trees.
“Our experiences show that the best way to deal with the extreme weather and to avoid more serious disruption is to put an amended train service in place. The service changes will only impact the parts of our network that have been worse hit by the stormy weather since December. By running a reduced service we are minimising the risk of further damage being caused as well as lessening the potential for future disruption to our customers’ journeys.
Last night the Environment Agency had issued five flood warnings for the county and a number of less severe alerts.
The warnings – which mean ‘be prepared’ – were for the Hamble Estuary, Beaulieu, Winchester, Cowes and from Wickham to Titchfield on the River Meon.
There were alerts on the Lower Itchen, Middle Itchen, Upper Itchen, Southampton Water, Isle of Wight Coast and from Fareham to Portchester, Milford on Sea to Lymington and Hillhead to Gosport.
See southwesttrains.co.uk or follow @SW_Trains on Twitter for further updates.