The Highways Agency is urging road users to take care, particularly in the North East, North West and South West of the country, as heavy rain and strong winds are forecast from Wednesday afternoon until midnight.
Met Office forecasters based in the Agency’s National Traffic Operations Centre have issued a severe weather alert for the three regions – with gales up to 80mph a possibility.
Road users are advised to plan their journeys before setting out, check weather conditions, leave extra time for their journeys if travel conditions are poor, and delay their journey if the weather becomes severe.
More advice is available on the Highways Agency website.
Traffic Management Director Simon Sheldon-Wilson said:
“We are constantly monitoring the potential impact of weather on our network and are keeping a close eye on the current situation.
“Where flooding has caused problems, we have responded quickly to ensure the safety of road users and to re-open lanes and roads as quickly as possible.”
The Met Office is a forecasting a vigorous storm bringing spells of heavy rain across the country through Wednesday afternoon and evening, bringing 15 to 25mm of additional rainfall in areas already saturated. A first peak in the winds is likely over the South West of England around the middle of Wednesday but with the main swathe of even stronger and potentially damaging winds crossing parts of northern England later in the day.
Around lunchtime, the M48 Severn Bridge will be exposed to gusts around 45 to 55mph and possibly up to 65 to 70mph for the M4 Second Crossing. Later in the day, expect south-west to westerly winds to strengthen up to 60 to 70mph quite widely across the North West and North East, but possibly reaching 80mph over the most exposed routes along the coast and over the hills.
This will be strong enough to cause severe damage to trees, structural damage and a risk from flying debris, thus likely to generate disruption on parts of the network.
Expect a gradual decrease of the wind later in the night.
There is a particular high risk that high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes could be blown over and the Highways Agency, in conjunction with the Met Office, are strongly advising that these types of vehicles avoid, if possible, the following sections during the severe weather.
M53 J1-J2 (Wallasey to Birkenhead)
M56 J12 (Runcorn and Sutton Weaver)
M58 J1 (Kirkby)
M6 J20-J21 (Thelwall Viaduct)
M6 J26-J27 (M58 to Standish)
M6 J36-J45 (Through Cumbria)
M60 J10-J12 (Barton Bridge through to M62)
M60 J16-J17 (Pendlebury and Kersley to Prestwich and Whitefield)
M62 J18 - J27 (Between Manchester and Leeds)
M61 J4-J5 (J5 Westhoughton)
M61 J9 / M65 J1 interchange
A56 (Between M65 and A680 at Edenfield)
M65 J3-J4 (Withnell and Blackburn Interchange)
A66 (Between M6 J40 - A1 (Scotch Corner))
A595 (Near Whitehaven)