Port, parks close but Stansted as normal

FELIXSTOWE port was closed today as gale-force winds battered Harwich Harbour.Both Trinity and Landguard Terminals at Felixstowe halted their operations - though Landguard was already closed following an accident last week which was caused by strong winds.

FELIXSTOWE port was closed today as gale-force winds battered Harwich Harbour.

Both Trinity and Landguard Terminals at Felixstowe halted their operations - though Landguard was already closed following an accident last week which was caused by strong winds.

Ship-to-shore cranes at the port cannot work once winds hit 45mph because of the danger, and quayside container parks were out of bounds because of the fear of gusts ripping empty and lightly-filled metal boxes off stacks, tossing them about like toys.

Officials at the port were expecting Operation Stack, which queues lorries back along the A14, to be brought into use later if the winds persist and lorry traffic starts to build up.

Felixstowe seafront was virtually deserted this morning with just a few brave souls taking their usual morning walks.

High tide is at 1pm but with winds southerly waves are not expected to be spectacular or cause damage.

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Even the cemeteries in Ipswich were closed until further notice because of the high winds. The crematorium remains open for services.

Meanwhile Ipswich Borough Council closed the borough's parks because of safety fears linked to the powerful winds.

All visitors to Ipswich Hospital were being advised that the main maternity entrance (entrance 8) would be closed until the high winds had abated.

The hospital said that was windiest spot on the Heath Road site and the action was a precautionary measure, based on experience from previous storms.

The maternity block can be accessed via a covered walkway near ante-natal/gynae clinics (entrance 7) or via the main outpatient's entrance (entrance 6).

Stansted Airport though was operating as normal.

Mark Davison, a spokesman for the airport, said Stansted had accepted a diverted flight from London City Airport because of the weather.

He said Stansted was not expected to suffer major problems because of the weather.