What a night! Though we live inland in the lee of Ashdown Forest, it was a rough night weather-wise! Firstly the technical stuff. The wind peaked at about 10pm last night with a mean wind speed of 58mph – Storm Force 10, being recorded at the weather buoy off the East Sussex coast, with a gust of 66mph being recorded in the early hours at Shoreham. Rainfall in the county over the past 24 hours has been in the region of 30-50mm. The atmospheric pressure bottomed out here at about 5-6am today at 28.98 inches or 981 millibars. At the eye of the storm as it passed NW Scotland 929 millibars was recorded, the lowest recorded pressure reading in the British Isles since the 1880’s.
I was out the door just before first light… There were a number of trees obstructing the roads in the Forest area though presumably the Highways guys had been out early and cut a vehicle’s width through them. Down at East Dean it was a different story with two roads well and truly blocked, including the A259 coast road on East Dean Hill; this was still closed at the midday. On eventually reaching Birling Gap where we have 12 ponies in the vicinity of the cliffs, the electric fencing had to my surprise, remained largely intact with only two breaks, these having been discovered and repaired before the ponies had gone walkabout, by Mick our stalwart volunteer, who was already out inspecting the fencing. Whilst repairing the fence Mick (now accompanied by Michael) witnessed a cliff fall not far away due to the very wet rock, it sending a large cloud of white dust – yes dust, carried inland on the wind.
At another pony grazing site in the Ashdown Forest area access was rather tricky due to two sycamore trees having crashed down across an access road. Streams and rivers are very swollen, with the floodgate having been closed earlier in the day at one of Uckfield’s car parks, after it was feared that the town centre could be at danger from very high levels in the River Uck. The River Cuckmere looks likely to spread out on to the neighbouring floodplain near Alfriston in the following days?