Heavy rain and strong winds set for the North East today

The Highways Agency is urging road users in the North East to take care as heavy rain and strong winds are forecast from this afternoon until midnight.

Met Office forecasters based in the Agency’s National Traffic Operations Centre have issued a severe weather alert for the region – with gales up to 80mph a possibility.

Road users are advised to plan their journeys before setting out, check weather conditions, leave extra time for their journeys if travel conditions are poor, and delay their journey if the weather becomes severe.

More advice is available on the Highways Agency website.

Northumbria Police has also issued a warning to motorists in the region to take additional care on the region’s roads following snow fall and icy conditions.

Motorists should be aware there are icy patches on roads across the region as well as some snow flurries and police are advising people to exercise caution and remember the following advice:

Moderate your speed to match the conditions but try not to brake sharply, use the gears instead to decelerate; Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front - stopping distances are longer on wet or icy roads; Ensure you have adequate visibility by clearing front and back windscreens and all windows/wing mirrors before setting off; Keep your windscreen washer bottle topped up, with the addition of winter screen wash; Clean your headlights front and rear before driving and use dipped headlights when driving in poor visibility; Be alert for pedestrians walking on roads when footpaths are too icy to use.

For further information and updates follow @NorthumbriaPol or internet search Northumbria Police news.

Highways Agency traffic management director Simon Sheldon-Wilson said: “We are constantly monitoring the potential impact of weather on our network and are keeping a close eye on the current situation.

“Where flooding has caused problems, we have responded quickly to ensure the safety of road users and to re-open lanes and roads as quickly as possible.”

The Met Office is a forecasting a vigorous storm bringing spells of heavy rain across the country through Wednesday afternoon and evening, bringing 15 to 25mm of additional rainfall in areas already saturated. A first peak in the winds is likely over the South West of England around the middle of Wednesday but with the main swathe of even stronger and potentially damaging winds crossing parts of northern England later in the day.

This afternoon expect south-west to westerly winds to strengthen up to 60 to 70mph quite widely across the North West and North East, but possibly reaching 80mph over the most exposed routes along the coast and over the hills.

This will be strong enough to cause severe damage to trees, structural damage and a risk from flying debris, thus likely to generate disruption on parts of the network.

But there is expected to be a gradual decrease of the wind later in the night.

There is a particular high risk that high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes could be blown over and the Highways Agency, in conjunction with the Met Office, are strongly advising that these types of vehicles avoid roads which could cause a problem.