Drivers are being warned to be prepared for severe weather in the North of England tonight and over the weekend.
Highways England has issued an amber weather alert for motorways and major A roads in the North, with gusts of up to 70mph forecast from tonight.
Drivers across the region are being urged to check the weather and driving conditions before setting out on journeys this weekend. High winds are forecast from 9pm tonight (Friday 4 December) until 5am on Sunday (6 December).
The south westerly winds are expected to strengthen with widespread gusts in excess of 60mph, especially in Cumbria, Lancashire, Northumberland, Durham and North Yorkshire.
Several roadworks that had been due to take place this weekend have also been postponed.
They include the overnight closure of the M62 between junction 19 at Heywood and junction 20 at Oldham to remove an overhead gantry as part of the smart motorway scheme, along with the start of work on a major project to repair bridges and install a new concrete barrier on the M6 between junction 19 at Knutsford and junction 20 at Lymm Services.
In West Yorkshire, the planned removal of roadworks on the M1 smart motorway scheme between junction 39 at Denby Dale and junction 41 at Morley has also been postponed.
The new dates for all postponed schemes will be publicised in advance of work taking place.
Phil Stockford, Emergency Planning Manager at Highways England, said:
We issue severe weather alerts when there is a significant risk to vehicles using motorways and major A roads. The amber status means drivers should be prepared before setting out on journeys.
There’s a particular risk to lorries and other vulnerable vehicles, such as caravans and motorbikes, so we’re asking drivers to slow down and to avoid using exposed sections of motorways and other routes if possible.
We’re advising drivers to plan their journeys before they set out, checking the forecast and road conditions, as well as to leave extra time for their journeys and to delay their journey if the weather becomes severe.
There will also be possible 70mph gusts of wind around exposed parts of the A595, A590, A66 trans-Pennine route, M6 at Shap, A69, A1 at Morpeth and A19 at Newcastle upon Tyne.
The winds are forecast to ease only slightly for a time between 8am and 5pm on Saturday but then increase again up to 60mph or more. The winds will then increase to gusts of 60mph or more before quickly easing after 5am on Sunday morning.
Highways England is working closely with the Met Office to monitor weather conditions and maintain safe roads and reliable journeys. Extra patrols of Highways England traffic officers and recovery vehicles are being deployed across the weekend to help respond to any incidents.
Locations in the North West potentially affected by gusts over the weekend include:
- M53 J1-J2 – Wallasey to Birkenhead
- M56 J12 – Runcorn and Sutton Weaver
- M58 J1 – Kirkby
- M6 J20-J21 – Thelwall Viaduct
- M6 J26-J27 – M58 to Standish
- M6 J36-J45 – Through Cumbria
- M60 J10-J12 – Barton Bridge through to M62
- M60 J16-J17 – Pendlebury and Kersley to Prestwich and Whitefield
- M62 J18 – J27 – Between Manchester and Leeds
- M61 J4-J5 – J5 Westhoughton
- M61 J9 / M65 J1 – Interchange
- A56 – Between M65 and A680 at Edenfield
- M65 J3-J4 – Withnell and Blackburn Interchange
- A66 – Between M6 J40 – A1 (Scotch Corner)
- A69 – All of it
Locations in the North East and Yorkshire and The Humber potentially affected by gusts over the weekend include: North East
- A628 Woodhead Pass
- M62 J23-J25 Huddersfield to Brighouse
- M62 J31-J32 Normanton to Pontefract
- M62 J35a-J36 Rawcliffe Bridge, M18 interchange to J36 Goole
- M62 J36-J37 River Ouse / Ouse Bridge
- A1(M) J47-J49 Between A59 Knaresborough and A168 Dishforth
- A1(M) J58-J65 Between A1 and Washington at J65
- A66 Between M6 J40 – A1 (Scotch Corner)
- A19 Hylton Bridge over River Wear
- A19 Tees Viaduct
- A19 Leven Viaduct
- A69 All of it
- Humber Bridge
Road users are being advised to follow messages on the overhead signs and listen to radio updates. Further information can be found by visiting www.highways.gov.uk/traffic or calling the Highways England Information Line on 0300 123 5000.
More advice on driving in windy weather is available at www.metoffice.gov.uk/winterhighways