High winds ‘highly likely’ to close A14 Orwell Bridge in Suffolk tomorrow - gusts of 65mph forecast
PUBLISHED: 23:46 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:19 30 January 2018
Drivers are advised that it is “highly likely” the Orwell Bridge in Suffolk will shut during tomorrow morning’s rush hour amid forecasts of 65mph gusts.
Highways England said it was monitoring the situation but the current expectation was for the A14 to be shut in both directions over the bridge.
The closure would be third in just three weeks – and would likely cause more major disruption on the region’s roads.
A spokesman for Highways England said: “It is highly likely that the bridge will shut tomorrow.
“We’ve not had confirmation and we are monitoring it all the time.
In a statement, issued at 4.15pm, it added: “Highways England is advising road users in the East of England that the Orwell Bridge in Suffolk is likely to be closed through tomorrow morning’s rush hour (Wednesday 24 January) for safety reasons, due to high winds.
“Wind speeds will continue to be closely monitored by Highways England overnight before making a decision about whether to close the bridge, based on the safety of road users. Current forecasts are for a south-west wind with potential gusts of in excess of 60mph in the region.”
The bridge closes for safety reasons when there are forecasts of cross winds of 50mph or gusts of 60mph in an easterly or westerly direction.
Weatherquest, which is based in Norwich, said current forecasts were for surface winds of 50mph tomorrow morning, rising to 65mph on higher ground.
Forecaster Adam Dury said there would be a prolonged period of high winds from 8am-1pm tomorrow, with the strongest gusts around noon.
“Throughout the morning, the winds will be picking up and the gusts are expected to track eastwards accompanied by a band of squally rain,” he added.
If the bridge does close, it would be the third occasion this year.
Storm Eleanor caused the bridge to close overnight from January 2 into January 3.
The latest closure was on the morning of Thursday, January 18, when Storm David saw winds of up to 80mph batter the region.
Mr Dury said the frequency of high winds was not unusual for this time of year and was caused by a combination of events, including steep temperature gradients, when mild weather is replaced by a colder front.
Tomorrow’s winds are expected to drop to around 30-40mph by the middle of the afternoon when temperatures are also forecast to fall, bringing a “fresher feel”.
The forecast for high winds comes after the region experiences unseasonably mild weather, with many parts of Suffolk and Essex recording their highest temperatures of the year so far.
Weatherquest has recorded highs today of 11.2C in Wattisham and 11.9C in Santon Downham.
•If the Orwell Bridge does close, the planned diversion route would be via the A1156, A1189 and A1214 through Ipswich.
•Drivers planning to travel in the area are encouraged to plan their journey in advance and check the latest weather and traffic conditions along the route.
•We will update this page with more details on the closure as they arrive.
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