Bournemouth hit by flash flooding

Parts of southern England have been hit by flash flooding after torrential rain hit the south coast.

Police in Dorset said the main area affected is Bournemouth. Vehicles, including buses, have broken down and roads have been closed due to the sudden downpour.

Residents have also reported drains lifting and water almost rising up to the bonnets of cars. In Bournemouth town centre, Wessex Way was closed for a time because of flooding and traffic was diverted via The Triangle.

"Surface water does remain in areas and motorists are advised to proceed with caution and avoid making journeys if at all possible," a Dorset Police spokesman said. "A number of roads are closed and a good deal of vehicles have broken down."

The force said parts of Wimborne Road, Wellington Road and Magna Road are blocked because of the rain and broken-down vehicles. Exeter Road is closed after a wall collapsed - because of the floods - and ruptured a gas main, causing homes and businesses to be evacuated.

"It is Bournemouth town centre where the heaviest floods are being felt," the spokesman said. "The latest information I have is that the rain is calming down and a lot of the surface water is starting to subside."

Stephen Davenport, a senior meteorologist with MeteoGroup, said: "There was flooding in parts of Dorset caused by torrential thundery rain, especially in the south where nearly 20mm of rain fell in just one hour between 10am and 11am on Thursday. Over 50mm accumulated in places in six hours between 6am and midday."

In neighbouring Hampshire, police and fire crews have been dealing with flooded roads after a day of heavy rain.

A police spokesman said the force is working with the fire service and local highways authorities to close roads affected in areas including Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton and the New Forest. In the New Forest, the A338 at Fordingbridge was flooded.

A motorcyclist and passenger were treated by ambulance crews in Burley after coming off the vehicle on Forest Road and their motorcycle ended up submerged. In the Winchester area, there were reports of widespread flooding. The services at Sutton Scotney on the busy A34 dual carriageway were also affected.