FLOODING was the new hazard for West Somerset today, as a result of melting snow combining with heavy overnight rain.
One victim of the change in weather conditions was a 76-year-old Exmoor man who had to be airlifted to hospital.
The man, who lives in Exford, complained of chest pains during the night but a road ambulance was unable to reach the village.
Instead, a Sea King air-sea rescue helicopter was sent from RAF Chivenor shortly after 1 am to pick up the patient and take him to the North Devon District Hospital, in Barnstaple.
Elsewhere, the B3227 was blocked by floodwater more than 20 inches deep in Norton Fitzwarren, between Manor Park and the A358.
The A358 was also partially blocked in boith directions by flooding at Combe Florey, between Watts Lane and New Road, near the railway bridges, while a fallen tree also partially blocked the A358 near Crowcombe.
Communities on a stretch of coast from Porlock all the way to Avonmouth were put on alert as strong winds and high tides threatened to overrun sea defences.
Rivers across the district were at risk of breaching their banks and the Environment Agency warned immediate action was needed in several areas to protect homes and businesses from likely floods.
In Watchet, the morning high tide was predicted to be more than 14 feet, occurring at the same time as pressure from strong northerly winds were likely to push the water higher.
However, coastguards in Swansea reassured residents that such conditions were ‘not exceptional’.
An Environment Agency flood alert was issued for Doniford Stream, affecting properties around Swill Bridge in particular, but also in Doniford itself.
Properties in Sampford Brett and upstream were also at risk from the Doniford Stream, including the Sampford Mill farm area.
An alert was also issued for the Monksilver Stream upstream of Williton.
A ‘flood watch’ - where flooding of low lying land and roads was expected – was issued for the Horner Water, Aller, Washford, Monksilver, and Doniford streams and their tributaries.
Overnight alerts were stood down and the ‘all clear’ given early this morning for the upper River Exe, between Exford and Exebridge, including The Green, and Chapel Street, in Exford, Winsford, Bridgetown, Chilly Bridge, the B3224 at Exford, and the B3223 at Exebridge.
Similarly, there was relief when the ‘all clear’ was sounded this morning for the River Barle at Dulverton, especially around Bridge Street, Pound Walk, Kemps Way, High Street, Northmoor Road, and the Exmoor House Caravan Park.
Also out of danger were areas along the Barle from Simonsbath to Brushford, and including Withypool, New Bridge, Exebridge, and the B3222 at Dulverton, plus the River Bray, at Challacombe, and the River Tone from Waterrow to Bishops Hull.
Separately, Lydeard St Lawrence Primary School was closed yesterday when the weather caused problems for people trying to park or turn vehicles on the site, while heating problems meant Wiveliscombe Primary School also had to shut.