POLICE warned people not to travel unless absolutely necessary and thousands of homes were left without power as Storm Erik lashed South Cumbria.

The first 'named' storm of 2019 battered the area overnight with the wind and rain continuing through most of the morning.

Trees and powerlines were brought down with almost 7,000 homes in Grange-over-Sands, Kent’s Bank, Allithwaite, Kendal, Ravenglass and Ulverston left without power.

Winds gusted to 55mph with  gusts hitting 70mph in coastal areas.

Overnight the worst of the weather was been in the south of the county with police receiving reports of fallen trees bringing down power lines.

Electricity North West confirmed that 6,384 houses in Milnthorpe, Ulverston, Grange and Allithwaite were without power on Saturday morning in addition to 517 homes in the Kendal area with engineers working to restore supplies.

The region’s power network operator has fixed 10 faults and repaired damage to overhead power lines caused by the severe weather and flying debris throughout the morning.

Engineers worked through the morning to restore power to the final 4,375 customers, with the majority of customers, 3,905, located in Grange.

The majority of homes were back on grid by 10.30am with the rest re-connected by early afternoon.

Samantha Loukes, network manager for Electricity North West, said: “Storm Erik has brought some severe gales to our region overnight and this morning, with 74mph winds recorded at St Bees in Cumbria.

“This weather has impacted the network, but I’m pleased to say that we were able to restore some power within minutes and our engineers have also worked in difficult conditions to restore power to customers.

“We are still urging people that if they see any damage to our overhead power lines please stay away and report it to us straight away so we can repair it safely.”

The storm also brought problems to the roads and Cumbria Police warned people to take extra care on the roads.

They tweeted: "If you can avoid driving, please do. Very strong winds, driving rain, surface spray and tree/verge debris."

The weather affected bus services with the Stagecoach North Lancashire number six shuttle service unable to serve Storrs Hall and Ghyll Head by Windermere due to a fallen tree blocking the road.

Several flood alerts for Cumbria were also issued by the Environment Agency, mainly along the coast.

However they say they do not expect the Saturday lunchtime high tide to reach 'alert levels'.

The high winds also caused disruption to services on the Windermere ferry service, however sailings had returned to normal by 1pm.

Further afield, there was structural damage caused to the penthouse suites at Morecambe's landmark Midland Hotel with a section of roof panelling blown off.

There were also slight delays for travellers heading to Glasgow from Cumbria on the West Coast Main Line after overhead power lines in the Carstairs area were damaged.