The emergency services have met to co-ordinate the response to the storm battering Brighton and Hove this afternoon and evening (Monday 23 December).
The meeting took place as winds of up to 80mph swept in and combined with heavy rain to make conditions treacherous.
The Met Office issued an amber rain warning for rain and a less serious yellow warning for wind.
The high winds and rain are forecast to continue until tomorrow morning (Tuesday 24 December).
The Met Office said that heavy rain would be falling on saturated ground, increasing the risk of flooding. About an inch and a half of rain is expected to fall by Christmas Day.
Breakdown services said that too many drivers needed help because they hadn’t seen deep water until too late. They urged drivers to drive more slowly.
The council said: “We would advise residents to take care on the seafront and to stay away from the sea until the storm has passed.
“The weather is likely to cause disruption to travel, so please leave extra time for any journeys.
“The high winds will mean reducing train speeds to 50mph, meaning some delays and cancellations, particularly on mainline and coastal routes.
“Coastal bus routes have also been affected.
“Please secure any loose objects in gardens or outside spaces and secure or consider removing any outdoor decorations and lights.
“To report fallen trees or debris on roads or pavements, please call 01273 292929 during office hours.
“For environmental emergencies out of office hours, call 01273 292229.
“Work to move debris and fallen trees will be prioritised on grounds of safety and need.
“Although the weather is due to improve by Christmas Day, conditions in the sea will be dangerous and the beach will be temporarily closed where the Christmas Day Swim traditionally takes place.”
Brighton and Hove Buses said after lunch: “Weather conditions along the south coast are currently worsening and so from approximately 3pm all service 12/12A will operate via Lewes Road, the A27 and A26 between Brighton Old Steine and Denton Corner in both directions.
“Churchill Square and North Street will be served as normal and buses towards Eastbourne will serve stop D at Old Steine not the Sea Life Centre.
“The normal route will be operated between Denton Corner and Eastbourne.
“A shuttle service with single-deckers will operate between Churchill Square and Newhaven Denton Corner along the A259 via the North Peacehaven loop replacing all of services 12/12A/12X/14/14C along on this section of route although at a reduced frequency.
“We regret that we will be unable to serve the Royal Sussex County Hospital and Eastern Road on these buses. Please be aware that there is also significant traffic congestion across the city and beyond and this is causing major delays to services.
“We will endeavour to operate service 14 journeys to/from Hangleton as normal, and service 27 too, but these may also be subject to change if the weather conditions worsen even further.”
The train company Southern said: “Weather reports for Monday 23 December indicate that the Sussex area will see heavy persistent rain across the region with wind speeds in excess of 60 mph from 4pm on Monday through to early morning Tuesday 24 December.
“During this time we may see winds gusting up to 80mph.
“Because of the high winds Southern trains will run at reduced speeds from 4pm today which will lead to some trains being cancelled and delays to others.
“There is a possibility of line blockages during the evening due to fallen trees which may lead to greater disruption.
“If you are able to travel earlier than you usually would today you are advised to do so.
“In order to ensure safe operation on Tuesday 24 December routes will need to be checked and any obstructions cleared before train services can start.
“This is highly likely to lead to services being significantly disrupted or cancelled and it may take some time to clear routes, depending on the extent of damage caused by the storm.
“Passengers are asked to check before they travel and to plan for a later start of train services on Tuesday morning.
“Please bear in mind that decisions over train services are likely to be made at relatively short notice as the situation emerges so check as close to your planned travelling time as possible.
“Advance tickets for today and tomorrow will be accepted for travel on any Southern train on either date.”