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High winds ‘could close Orwell Bridge’, experts warn

PUBLISHED: 07:18 09 February 2019 | UPDATED: 07:36 09 February 2019

The Orwell Bridge in Ipswich sometimes closes in high winds Picture: ARCHANT

The Orwell Bridge in Ipswich sometimes closes in high winds Picture: ARCHANT

Forecasters are predicting another round of high winds this morning – with gusts of up to 50mph threatening havoc for drivers.

It’s set to be a blustery morning across East Anglia, as high winds continue to batter the coastline and sweep inland.

While yesterday’s strong gusts died down a little overnight, experts are warning we could see speeds of up to 50mph on the coast and 40mph inland this morning – posing a fresh risk to those hoping to cross the Orwell Bridge.

Yesterday, when speeds were expected to peak at 55mph, the Highways Agency said the situation regarding the bridge was “borderline” – and it was keeping a close eye on Storm Erik.

And while the agency has not issued a formal update this morning, forecaster Chris Bell, from Weatherquest, said the wind speeds were probably “getting back to the top of their limits”.

“The problem with the bridge is it is elevated, so it is not receiving the same wind speeds as you get down on the ground,” he said.

“If it is not closed at the moment, the winds probably aren’t going to get a lot stronger.

“Obviously if it picks up a few miles per hour, there is a threshold there.

“It is getting close to the top end of the limit for it staying open.”

He said the winds were “the same sort of area as they were for a time yesterday” – which would imply the risk is similar.

However Mr Bell stressed that he would not be the decision maker in that case, and it is up to the Highways team to determine if the bridge is safe to stay open.

Bridge closures depend on wind direction as much as speed and a while a 50mph head-on wind will not close the bridge, a cross-wind at this speed would make it potentially dangerous especially for high-sided vehicles.

Looking ahead, Mr Bell said the winds are likely to start dying down around lunchtime, and things are looking a lot calmer as the weekend goes on.

A yellow weather warning for wind remains in place for north Suffolk – with forecasters warning of “potential traffic disruption”.

• Stay with us for updates on the Orwell Bridge as the day progresses

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