Dorset Police and partner agencies are warning West Dorset communities of the risk of landslides following the adverse weather.

A police spokesman said that landslides often take place after wet weather as there is a delay in the rainwater falling and soaking into the ground.

“Cliffs and areas that have clays at the base and porous sandstone or limestone at the top are prone to landslides because the water soaks down through the cliff top but cannot pass through the clay.

“Residents and visitors should be aware that Dorset has several areas where the geology may lead to a landslide either inland or on the coast and are advised to take care.”

Residents and visitors to the county are encouraged to follow safety advice along the coastline as landslides and rock falls can occur quickly and without warning.

Tides have also re-shaped and stripped beaches around the coast meaning it is easier to get cut off by the incoming tide.

The coast path will be very muddy and slippery in places. Keep to official routes and follow warning signs at all times.

The far western end of the esplanade at West Bay is currently closed which means there is no access to and from Eype along the beach.

Police officers are also alerting motorists to the problems caused by driving through flood water when large vehicles – similar to four wheel drive cars – are being driven through standing water at speed creating a wash that penetrates flood defences of nearby properties.

In some areas of the county some drivers are ignoring road closure signs to drive through floods, exacerbating problems caused by flooding and adding to the worry and distress of affected home owners.

Superintendent Jared Parkin, of Dorset Police, said: “Motorists continuing to drive at speed through flood water are causing significant bow waves and further flooding to houses already saturated with water.

Houses that so far have escaped flooding are being flooded by these waves.

“Understandably, this is extremely upsetting for those affected who are already battling against this terrible weather.”

All road users are advised not to drive through flood water or ignore road closure signs. Where ground water is present on the roads and cannot be avoided motorists are advised to take great care and to drive slowly.

Superintendent Parkin continued: “Roads are closed because they are impassable – do not ignore the signs – to do so is dangerous.

“All road closures are assessed regularly and will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so. The patience of the public in this matter is appreciated.”