Orwell Bridge at ‘risk’ of closure as blustery conditions hit Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 08:14 16 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:32 16 March 2019

Closure of the Orwell Bridge caused gridlock in Ipswich yesterday Picture: ARCHANT

Closure of the Orwell Bridge caused gridlock in Ipswich yesterday Picture: ARCHANT

Highways England have warned that there is a “risk” that the Orwell Bridge will close this weekend as gusts of up to 50mph are set to batter East Anglia.

A yellow weather warning is in place for coastal area of Suffolk. Picture: SIMON PARKERA yellow weather warning is in place for coastal area of Suffolk. Picture: SIMON PARKER

The highways authority, who decided to close the bridge on Wednesday because of wind speeds, have said that they will monitor the situation throughout the day and close the bridge if necessary.

However, forecasters have said that they do not expect the Orwell Bridge to close on Saturday, with wind speeds not expected to reach Wednesday’s heights.

A second yellow-grade weather warning remains in place for the whole of Saturday, with “a spell of strong winds” expected to hit coastal areas.

The Met Office has also advised there could be delays to public transport, with longer journey times for rail and bus services.

Fred Best, forecaster for Weatherquest, said gusts are likely to hit 40-45mph both today and tomorrow, with the potential for wind speeds to peak at 50mph in some areas.

“It is looking likely it is going to be a fairly blustery day,” he said.

While winds are set to drop down overnight, Mr Best said the gusts will pick up again tomorrow – with blustery conditions expected “across the whole of the region”.

However it is unlikely winds will reach the same speeds as Wednesday, when highways officers were forced to close the Orwell Bridge for more than eight hours.

Mr Best said there is certainly “less of a risk” of a similar event over the next two days.

“If it wasn’t closed yesterday, I would not imagine it would be closed today,” he said.

Highways England confirmed the bridge is not expected to close based on the current forecast, but officers will be monitoring wind conditions throughout the day.

Mr Best added that things would become “a bit calmer” on Sunday – with winds peaking at 40mph, and a little bit of sunshine breaking through the clouds.

UK Power Networks has warned there could be interruptions on their network caused by high winds on Saturday and has called on extra staff to respond to any incidents.

Sam Fuller, head of customer service for the electricity company, said: “Keeping people safe and reconnecting supplies quickly is our priority, so if you see any damaged power lines our advice is to stay away, keep everyone clear and call us.”

The weather is looking to be far more pleasant next week, as an area of high pressure moves up from the south.

Mr Best predicted we could see far warmer temperatures of 15 to 16C by the end of the week – and “a bit more sunshine” throughout.

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