Representatives of the Essex Meterological Service have confirmed this evening that RECORD LEVELS of wind and rain have been forecast for the county overnight into Sunday morning. Residents in the so-called ‘hot zone’ between Chelmsford, Southend and Basildon have been warned to keep pets indoors as sudden circular gusts are a major concern.

EMS spokesperson Barry Metter said: ‘Some parts of the county could see more than five litres of rain this evening, and to make matters worse we are also predicting a large number of circular gusts between midnight and 8am. This is a particularly dangerous type of wind, and one of these gusts could easily lift a cat into the air and carry it for a number of miles before it is returned to ground level. During Essex’s last circular gust cluster in August 2014, a 3-year-old Persian cat from Manningtree was found unharmed in Felixstowe, but others may not be so lucky.’

He added: ‘Our data shows that more than five litres can be expected to fall this evening. We are encouraging all homeowners to clear their gutters to make sure that their properties can deal with the rain safely, and our partners in the Environment Agency are currently distributing pond caps along the route of the Prittle Brook to avoid another emergency situation – recently 50 piranhas managed to get into the water flow when their owner’s pond in Thundersley overflowed.’