Travel and power supplies affected as UK battered by high winds

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An overturned lorry on the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh
An overturned lorry on the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh
11 January 2017 4:45PM

High winds have caused disruption to power supplies and travel as they batter the country, with forecasters warning of more to come.

In Scotland, motorists faced long delays as the Forth Road Bridge was closed after a lorry blew over at 2am on Wednesday.

Police said the 54-year-old driver has been charged following the incident. He suffered minor injuries.

The bridge is likely to remain closed for some time as high winds hamper recovery efforts.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings of wind and snow for northern parts of the country on Wednesday and Thursday, and for snow on Friday and Saturday.

A gust of 93mph was recorded at High Bradfield in South Yorkshire and 82mph at Emley Moor in West Yorkshire, though the Met Office pointed out these were sites at high elevations.

It said a gust of 77mph recorded in Tiree and 77mph at Port Ellen on Islay, both in the Hebrides, were more representative.

Teams of engineers from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) have been working to restore power to about 600 properties in the north of Scotland.

Northern Powergrid, which supplies power to homes in the North East and Yorkshire, said it had 545 customers without power on Wednesday morning.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) received 32 calls between 3am and 9.30am on Wednesday relating to the windy conditions and potentially dangerous structures.

One call was to a tree which had fallen through the roof of a bungalow in Birkenshaw, though no-one was inside at the time.

They have also dealt with several loose trampolines and potentially dangerous structures.

Northumbria Police said trees and walls had come down overnight, with one street in Newcastle city centre closed because of wind damage.

West Yorkshire Police said there had been several road closures because of fallen trees.

In Scotland, ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne warned of ''heavy disruptions'' across the network, with some sailings cancelled for the rest of the day.

It is hoped the Forth Road Bridge will be able to reopen to traffic with some restrictions later on Wednesday.

The overturned HGV needs to be removed from the bridge in a complex operation before a detailed damage assessment can take place.

Commenting on the incident, Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf said: ""Once again the engineers and Forth Road Bridge team find themselves in the spotlight, and I am hopeful they will be able to get the bridge reopened to traffic as soon as possible, albeit with restrictions in both directions likely."

Forecasters warned the severe weather is likely to continue, with Met Office yellow "be aware" warnings in place for much of the country until Saturday.

Scotland TranServ said it will be working around the clock with 22 spreaders and seven patrol vehicles treating, ploughing and monitoring routes to keep south-west Scotland on the move.

The Energy Networks Association has reminded people they can call 105 - the new, free national phone line - if the weather damages their local power network and affects their electricity supply.

Hundreds of homes in the North West were also without power for several hours as high winds buffeted pylons causing disruption to overhead power lines.

Around 900 homes were hit in Workington and Whitehaven in Cumbria and more than 500 in Marple, Cheshire.

Electricity North West, the firm responsible for the power network, had most of the homes reconnected within hours.

A spokeswoman said extra engineers are on standby and the firm is "fully prepared" as the high winds abate, temperatures drop and the region braces itself for snow forecast to fall on Thursday.

The Met Office has forecast bad weather across all parts of England from Wednesday afternoon onwards, with widespread snow and ice potentially lasting until Sunday.

Chief Meteorologist Paul Gundersen said conditions will become increasingly cold and windy as polar air spreads south across the country.

He said: "Wintry showers are also likely to affect many areas, most likely falling as snow over higher ground but occasionally also to low ground, especially where showers occur inland overnight.

"On Thursday a band of rain spreading from the west across southern parts is likely to turn wintry during the afternoon, with the potential for heavy snow in places.

"As this clears through the evening, with clear skies there is a risk of a widespread frost and icy conditions quickly forming."

Public Health England is urging people to take action to keep themselves and others warm and well over the coming days.

Director for health protection, Professor Paul Cosford, said: "Think now about what you need to do to prepare: if you need vital medicine or food get it before the bad weather arrives.

"People with underlying health conditions, very young children and those aged over 65 are at greatest risk, so think what you can do to help others."