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Friday, 25 July 2014

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Cumbria battered by severe gales

Strong winds battered Cumbria as the latest winter storm moved across the country.

There was an unconfirmed report that part of the roof at Southfield school in Workington had been blown off and an area of the school closed as a result.

The school yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon confirmed there was an "issue" with the roof but declined to give any details. The county council said damage was "very minor" and repairs should be completed today.

A police spokeswoman said they received a call from the school just after 1.30pm saying that a large area of the metal roof was lifting due to the wind and that "precautions" had been put in place for students.

FLOOD ALERTS

A flood alert was issued by the Environment Agency for the Rivers Caldew and Petteril. It warned that flooding was possible for areas including Greystoke, Newton Reigny, Plumpton, Stockdalewath, Sebergham and Denton Holme.

Alerts were also in place on the upper and lower River Eden, the upper River Derwent, Stonethwaite Beck and Derwent Water and the coast from Gretna all the way down to Millom.

POWER SUPPLIES

At one point, about 5,000 customers were without electricity, mainly in south Cumbria, said Electricity North West.

That has since been reduced to 1,200 and the firm says supplies to those properties should be reinstated today.

The company has drafted in extra engineers to deal with the problems.

The firm said last night: "As the weather is still severe it is too dangerous for our engineers to repair the overhead power lines but we will be switching the network and getting people back on as soon as possible."

A spokeswoman added that the company's partners, the British Red Cross, were on standby to "offer extra support to vulnerable customers".

Residents across the county were advised to be prepared.

It had been predicted that parts of northern and western England would bear the brunt of the problems, with gusts of 60 to 70mph widely, potentially reaching 80 to 90mph in exposed areas. In fact, a speed of 112mph was recorded at Great Dun Fell.

ROADS

The A66 was last night (Wednesday) closed in both directions - not just to high-sided vehicles - between the A685 junction in Brough and the A67 junction in Bowes due to high winds.

The B5300 Allonby to Silloth road was also closed at Dubmill Point.

The M6, between junctions 36 and 40, was closed to high-sided vehicles due to the high winds and the M6 northbound was closed between junctions 38 and 39 due to an accident.

This morning, the M6 north between junction 44 Carlisle North and junction 45 Gretna is closed, due to an overturned HGV.

A fallen tree has blocked the A6071 Longtown to Brampton road at the junction near Walton.

Police advised motorists to travel only if necessary. Drivers should slow down and drive in accordance with the conditions, not the speed limit, they said.

RAIL SERVICES

Inspections of the Cumbria coastal rail line are taking place at Parton, near Whitehaven, today after sea defences were breached.

Speed restrictions were in place as a precaution on Carlisle-Preston/Crewe, Carnforth/Barrow-Carlisle (Cumbrian coast line), Settle-Carlisle services from 4pm until midnight yesterday, Northern Rail said.

The restrictions meant extended journey times and for connecting services run by other operators.

A spokesman said yesterday: "So, please only travel if necessary. If you do have to travel today make your journey earlier if you can or allow more time if you are travelling this evening. Early indications are that road networks may also be affected, particularly in Lancashire and Cumbria.

"Tickets dated for travel today on north west routes will be valid for travel tomorrow."

Yesterday afternoon, Virgin Trains advised customers not to attempt to travel. Customers already on its services were taken to the nearest station.

All Virgin services out of London Euston were suspended due to various problems across the rail network. Virgin had said earlier that services would stop for two hours on the West Coast Mainline to Carlisle from 7pm yesterday.

OTHER

Pupils were sent home from Millom School and out of hours activities or meetings today cancelled as a precaution yesterday.

Windermere Lake Cruises cancelled services due to the adverse weather. The company was hoping sailings would return to normal today.

EARLIER ICE & SNOW WARNINGS

Drivers were yesterday (Wednesday) morning urged to take care on Cumbria's icy roads. The warning, from police, comes after a night of roads chaos caused by snow and ice. One lane of the M6 southbound at Plumpton was blocked this morning after a vehicle skidded on ice. There are not believed to be any injuries.

Snow showers were expected in the north of England, including Cumbria. Accumulations of between two and five centimetres of snow were likely on ground above about 150 to 200m, with 10cm or more above 300m.

The Met Office warned that a "swathe of exceptionally strong winds" was expected to affect some areas of the north west last night, particularly in coastal areas.

Winds were expected to gust to 80mph widely, possibly causing structural damage, bringing down trees and also leading to loss of power supplies. In addition, large waves were likely to affect some coasts.

Members of the public were warned to take action to alter their travel arrangements during storm force winds.

The Met Office has also issued a yellow warning for snow in Cumbria.

Forecasters said rain would turn to snow over the high ground last night, becoming showery overnight into today (Thursday), with a risk of some snow to lower levels later.

Up to 3cm of snow are possible above 150-200m and 5-10cm above 300m. Combined with severe gales, blizzards are likely to affect higher level roads, they add.

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Winter gritters are out treating Cumbria's melting roads. Are we geared for summer's heat?

Good idea to use up grit left over from an exceptionally mild winter

Surprising that roads are melting in these temperatures - not exactly extreme

Melting? Does that mean more potholes?

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