HURRICANE-FORCE winds caused havoc at the weekend.

Ferocious gales tore down scaffolding, felled trees, and disrupted transport across the county.

Staff at Newhaven National Coastwatch Institution said they recorded “force 12 hurricane gusts” of 73mph on Saturday afternoon.

The winds were so intense people were filmed clinging to lamp posts for stability.

The fire service received more than 200 emergency calls.

Both East and West Sussex fire services said they were working flat out to deal with large numbers of damaged power cables and broken branches.

In Worthing, crews were pictured tackling one of dozens of fallen trees.

They used a chainsaw and hauled away branches to free a parked car on Shakespeare Road. Nobody was hurt.

A spokeswoman for West Sussex Fire and Rescue said crews were busy with similar incidents across the county.

The fire service said nobody in Sussex was injured as a result of the severe weather.

A yellow warning for high winds came into effect at 4am and alerted people to the danger of potential flying debris and large waves.

The coastguard advised people to stay away from the sea, but young children were spotted playing in huge waves.

One mother said she was horrified to see people entering the sea as she was walking with her children along Brighton seafront.

She said: “I have seen lots of really stupid people letting small children go into the massive waves on the beach.

“There are loads of families with young children and toddlers going into the waves.

“I don’t think I have ever seen the sea look rougher.”

A spokesman from Shoreham coastguard said their team had been out educating people on the dangers of the sea in high winds.

He said it was “amazing how many people were taking unnecessary risks.”

In Portslade, winds tore down scaffolding in Boundary Road, leaving the route to the station blocked.

Dyke Road in Hove was shut both ways due to a fallen tree between Seven dials and the A270 on Old Shoreham Road, and buses in Southwick were redirected after a tree fell on top of a car in Overhill.

Traffic moved slowly in Marlborough Place, Brighton when pedestrians had to clear roadwork barriers blown across the street so that cars could pass.

Broken power lines in Mill Road, Burgess Hill, left the route closed between Park Road and Crescent Road, while the road at Cooksbridge level crossing was blocked both ways because barriers became stuck in the down position. Traffic on the A24 northbound between Findon and Washington eased after fallen trees were cleared.

The railways were severely affected, and there was a reduced service on the Brighton mainline due to a power problem.

The Seaford line was suspended after a level crossing fault, and a signalling problem led to a reduced service on the Uckfield line.

No direct trains were able to run between Lewes and Haywards Heath due to signalling problems and flooding near Cooksbridge, and a shuttle bus was left to cover for trains cancelled between Bognor Regis and Barnham due to a fallen power cable.

Trains between London Victoria and Eastbourne and between Victoria and Littlehampton were reduced to an hourly service. Southern Rail said high winds had an impact across the network.

The yellow weather warning came to an end at 6pm on Saturday.