Orwell Bridge to CLOSE tonight as Storm Bella sweeps in

The issue of Orwell Bridge closures in high winds was raised by MP Tom Hunt in Parliament. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The issue of Orwell Bridge closures in high winds was raised by MP Tom Hunt in Parliament. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The Orwell Bridge will close at 8pm tonight as Storm Bella brings winds of up to 60mph.

Highways England is advising road users in the East of England that the bridge will close for safety reasons due to high winds.

There is currently a Met Office yellow weather warning for wind in place until midday tomorrow and speeds are expected to reach 50-60mph. The threshold for bridge closures is usually 50mph.

Once the Orwell Bridge is closed, Highways England will continue to monitor wind speeds closely before making a decision about when to reopen the A14 bridge.

However, the bridge is expected to reopen before 6am.

When the Orwell Bridge is closed, the diversion route is via the A1156, A1189 and A1214 through Ipswich.

Drivers needing to travel in the area are advised to plan their journey in advance and check the latest weather and traffic conditions along the route.

Dan Holley, a forecaster with Weatherquest, said gusts of wind could reach 50-60mph over the course of tonight, with the higher speeds more likely at the coast.

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And because the ground is already wet due from all the rain, it could make some trees more vulnerable to blowing over.

Mr Holley said: "If anyone is travelling first thing tomorrow morning you may come across some branches blocking some roads."

He said winds would peak between midnight and 5am.

Short, heavy bursts of rain are also expected later tonight and first thing in the morning.

The yellow weather warning is for the whole of East Anglia and runs into Christmas Eve

The weather warning covers the whole of East Anglia for tomorrow and into the early hours of Christmas Eve - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Holley said it would be "nowhere near" as much as fell on Wednesday, but river levels are high and the ground is already saturated so it could cause problems later tonight and tomorrow morning.

You can get the latest forecast from the Met Office and local radio.

Highways England provides live traffic information via its website, radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile platforms. Local weather information is also available on Twitter at @HighwaysEAST