Severn Bridge closed and severe alert issued for England’s motorways

Severn Bridge closed and severe alert issued for England’s motorways
Three major road bridges closed as weather system causes travel disruption

Three major road bridges were closed to traffic as strong winds brought by Storm Eunice triggered travel disruption across southern England on Friday.

The closures came as the Met Office also took the unusual step of issuing a severe weather alert with National Highways for strong winds covering the whole of the country’s strategic road network – which includes all motorways and some A roads – from 6am to 6pm.

In the southwest, the Severn Bridge between J1 and J2 was closed due to strong winds. Motorists were being urged to use the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge as an alternative route, however this crossing was expected to be closed about 6am.

“If a closure of both bridges should be required then the diversion route will require traffic to use the M5, M50, A40 and A449 as an alternative route,” National Highways said.

In the southeast, the M25 Dartford crossing was disrupted by the closure of both carriageways of the QEII bridge due to strong winds. Traffic was being diverted through the tunnels with restrictions in place.

National Highways also announced the Orwell Bridge in Suffolk was closed in both directions.

The severe weather alert covering the National Highways strategic road network also included a warning for snow on routes above 200 metres from Lancashire and Yorkshire northwards.

Meteorologist models strong winds brought by Storm Eunice hitting UK

National Highways said peak gusts could reach 90 mph around the Bristol Channel for the Avonmouth and Severn Bridges, making for “tricky driving conditions for vulnerable vehicles”.

There is a “particularly high risk that high-sided vehicles and other ‘vulnerable’ vehicles such as caravans and motorbikes could be blown over” with guidance issued for those motorists to avoid a list of around 100 sections of road listed here.

National Highways advised drivers to plan ahead for their journey and to leave extra time if travel conditions are poor or to delay their journey if the weather becomes severe.

<p>A snowplough clears a road in Tow Law, County Durham</p>

A snowplough clears a road in Tow Law, County Durham

The agency’s head of road safety, Jeremy Phillips, urged those travelling to “take extra care”.

He said: “In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down.

“Drivers of other vehicles should be aware of sudden gusts of wind which can affect handling and braking, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, and motorbikes plenty of space. In the event of persistent high winds we may need to close bridges to traffic for a period, so please be alert for warnings of closures and follow signed diversion routes,” he added.

Wind gusts in the most exposed coastal areas could reach 100mph and the Environment Agency has issued 10 severe flood warnings, meaning there is a danger to life.

People have been warned to “tie down” objects in their gardens and be wary of fierce winds which could cause trees to topple over and tiles to fly off buildings.

A number of attractions including the London Eye, Legoland and Warwick Castle are temporarily closing.

A Network Rail spokesman said disruption is “inevitable” and Welsh services will be suspended for the whole day, while London North East Railway urged customers with tickets for Friday to travel on Saturday instead or get a refund due to expected disruption and damage.