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Could the Orwell Bridge close in high winds this week?

PUBLISHED: 12:05 07 August 2019

A yellow weather warning for wind by the Met Office could prompt the closure of the Orwell Bridge in Ipswich Picture: ARCHANT

A yellow weather warning for wind by the Met Office could prompt the closure of the Orwell Bridge in Ipswich Picture: ARCHANT

With the Met Office issuing a yellow weather warning for wind for the weekend - could the Orwell Bridge close?

High winds are a common reason for the closure of the bridge - which usually leads to traffic chaos across Ipswich and along the A14.

How windy is it going to be?

The Met Office has issued the warning as winds are expected to reach speeds of more than 40mph inland, while coastal areas in the south of the country could see gusts of more than 50mph.

Most of the country is affected by the warning.

How strong must winds be to force the closure of the bridge?

This depends on the direction of the wind.

If gusts of 50mph hit traffic head-on, this will not cause the bridge to close - but cross-winds (north or south) of the same speed will.

Wind speeds of 60mph or higher in any direction will prompt the bridge's closure.

If it does close, when will it re-open?

Highways England will only re-open the bridge when it is deemed safe to do so.

They deem conditions safe based upon advice from the Met Office and when three consecutive wind speed readings below 45mph are recorded on the bridge.

What do the experts say?

Adam Dury, meteorologist for Weatherquest, said: "The high winds will mainly be on Saturday.

"We could see gusts of 40mph inland and easily up to 50mph on the Suffolk and Essex coastline.

"This isn't necessarily unseasonable, but we tend to see these windspeeds during autumn - although we did see winds that high during the recent thunderstorms."

What are Highways England doing?

A spokesman for Highways England said staff are monitoring windspeeds.

He added: "Currently we are not expecting winds higher than 43mph on the bridge.

"We will be keeping a watchful eye, but as it stands there are no plans to close the bridge."

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