Travel hit as 80mph Storm Gertrude batters Yorkshire - and it will last all weekend

Storm Gertrude has brought further heavy rain to Yorkshire and wind gusts of up to 80mph in the north of the county.

Friday, 29th January 2016, 10:38 am
Updated Friday, 29th January 2016, 10:39 am

Snow and ice are also forecast in some areas as extreme weather continues to batter the British Isles.

A succession of storms since December has seen widespread flooding and major disruption to travel, with the latest misery expected to continue through to the weekend.

The Met Office has issued an amber “be prepared” warning for high winds in Northern Ireland, Scotland and north west and north east England.

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Yellow “be aware” warnings for rain, snow and ice are in place across much of the UK.

Strong winds have already been experienced across the county this morning and they are expected to continue throughout the day.

Wind speeds are expected to reach around 80mph in North Yorkshire later in the day.

Highways England said just before 9.30am this morning that the M1 at Tinsley Viaduct in Sheffield was closed to high sided and vulnerable vehicles due to strong winds.

Highways England said at 8.30am this morning that traffic had been temporarily stopped on the A1M northbound between junctions 50 and 51 near Leeming in north Yorkshire after a HGV lost part of its roof in high winds.

Leeds City Council said roads around Bridgewater Place in Leeds city centre have been closed to all traffic until further notice and diversions are in place.

Traffic delays are being reported in both directions on the approach to junction 3 of the M621 due to Bridgewater Lane being closed.

The Highways Agency said the A15 Humber Bridge has been closed to all high-sided and vulnerable vehicles.

Thursday night saw severe gale gusts at times, with spells of rain chiefly in the west, whilst drier in the east. Friday will see more gales or severe gales, plus spells of heavy showers during the morning, then sunny with more isolated showers during the afternoon.

Forecasters said: “West to south-westerly gales are expected to develop widely across Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of northern England early on Friday.

“Winds are expected to widely gust 60-70mph, possibly up to 80mph along exposed coasts and over hills.

“Be prepared for the likelihood of difficult driving conditions and disruption to travel, such as cancellation to ferry services and bridge closures.

“Some structural damage is also possible, as well as disruption to power supplies. Heavy rain and surface water will be additional hazards in places.”

The Met Office said gusts of up to 90mph across Orkney and Shetland are likely.

Engineers are on standby to deal with power outages caused by the extreme weather but householders are urged to be prepared for possible disruption.

A statement from Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) said: “ We have 400 front line and support staff standing by and we have moved engineers to the areas we expect to be hit by the storm. Mobile generators and other resources are also being moved.

“Members of the public should not approach fallen or damaged power lines, which may still be live.”

Around 600 people were evacuated from their homes in the Scottish Borders on Wednesday over renewed flooding fears and f irefighters had to rescue a bus driver caught in water on the B6405 route near Hawick.

The Forth Road Bridge is likely to be closed to all traffic except cars on Friday morning and may be shut entirely as winds peak at around 8am.

Operator Amey said: “The bridge is expected to be closed to cyclists and pedestrians throughout the day, and remains closed to HGVs while repairs to the truss end links continue.

“Public transport is likely to be affected, with winds forecast in excess of the level at which buses would be permitted to cross from approximately 4am onwards.”

The amber warning means all schools in the Western Isles will close for the day and bus services have been suspended on Friday until noon.

Leeds Markets tweeted this morning: “Due to predicted high wind & gusts speeds for Otley this weekend, we have taken the decision to cancel Otley market this Friday and Saturday.”