STRONG gusts of almost 50 miles per hour have battered the area, ripping out trees and forcing ferry operators and leisure groups to cancel services amid safety fears.
Whipping wind has been pummelling the area since last night, leaving debris scattered across roads and causing some key events to cancel or be dialled down.
All Hover services between Southsea and the Isle of Wight have been suspended today.
The Hayling Island Ferry has also cancelled its services, with the boat’s skipper, Colin Hill saying: ‘For passenger safety we are cancelling all sailing on the Hayling Ferry today, sorry for any inconvenience.’
Sporting fixtures have also been hit, with sailing scrapped at Cowes and play suspended at Bishop’s Waltham Cricket Club today after the pitch was left ‘unplayable’ due to last night’s storm.
Meanwhile, Southsea Kite Festival has suspended some of its larger displays today – although it is expected tomorrow’s show will go ahead as planned.
Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve has closed amid safety fears for walkers.
A statement on the nature site’s Facebook page said: ‘We are shutting the reserve today due to the strong winds.
‘East side has a tree down just inside the entrance. We will be doing a full site check and tree clearance in the morning.
‘Please bear with us for updates on tomorrow.’
Trees across the area have been toppled by the overnight gusts, which are causing mayhem for motorists in some parts of the county.
Hedge End police has warned people of delays when travelling near Bishop’s Waltham after a tree collapsed at a crossroads, ripping down a power line.
The force said: ‘It has been a blustery night. The crossroads at Durley Street, Manor Road, Winters Hill and Sciviers Lane are currently shut due to power lines down and huge tree completely blocking Manor Road. Lengthy delays are expected. Please avoid.’
A tree has also collapsed in Salterns Lane, Fareham, blocking a pathway.
Schoolgirl Renée Hinton, 13, lives in nearby Watersmeet and was shocked by the collapse when she walked past this morning.
The Cams Hill School pupil said: ‘There were several people walking under it last night. I walked under it yesterday too. It was lucky it didn’t fall then. Think how many lives it could have ruined if it had.’
Her father, James Hinton walked under the tree last night in the storm just hours before it collapsed and said his daughter had been left heartbroken.
‘That tree has been there her whole life, everyday she walks past it,’ he said. ‘She was absolutely gutted.’
The 43-year-old, who works as a sales manager at an aerospace company, added there were several other trees that looked dangerous.
‘There are a couple of other trees that don’t look too safe right now and will probably need to be inspected,’ he said.
Elsewhere, organisers of the Ferrybost Inn Dog Show on Hayling Island have apologised for having to postpone their event today.