Norfolk in the eye of the storm – why county escaped the worst of St Jude
07:00 29 October 2013
Norfolk’s position in the eye of the storm of St Jude saved it from the worst of the damage wrought across the east of England, according to forecasters.
However, homes and businesses across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are today continuing the clear-up after winds of more than 70mph battered the region early yesterday.
A driver was killed in a crash on the A1066 near Thetford, and a double-decker bus overturned because of the winds near Hadleigh in Suffolk, injuring two people. A driver and six passengers suffered injuries in a separate incident when a single-decker bus crashed at Foxley, between Norwich and Fakenham, and hit a fence.
After a day of widespread disruption on the trains, operators Greater Anglia, First Capital Connect and East Midlands Trains expect to be running a full service today, though thousands of homes were last night still without power after winds brought down power lines across the east of England.
Forecaster Jim Bacon, of Norwich-based Weatherquest, explained that Norfolk had escaped lightly compared to its county neighbours because the eye of the storm had passed directly overhead as it progressed from the south-west.
“There’s been damage in Norfolk: there’s been trees blown over and there’s been buses blown over, so it hasn’t been entirely without consequence, but it’s not at the top end of the scale,” said Mr Bacon.
“The closer to the centre of the storm you were, the lighter the winds were.
“If you imagine a dartboard description of an area of low pressure, where you have the winds going around the low, what do the winds do right in the middle? They are not going anywhere.”
Mr Bacon said that with Norfolk under the low pressure area, the more damaging parts of the storm had passed over Suffolk and Essex.
Suffolk saw the worst of the winds between 7am and 8.30am, with police inundated with more than 400 calls, including more than 200 between 8am and 9am – compared to fewer than 100 in Norfolk.
The strongest gusts in Norfolk were 53mph at Weybourne, north Norfolk, and 46mph at Marham, while Suffolk saw speeds of 76mph at Wattisham, a shade below the highest recorded in the east, at 80mph in north Essex.
A female driver died on the A1066 at Shadwell, near Thetford, after her silver Saab collided with a telegraph pole at about 5.45am.
The collision was one of eight on the county’s roads between midnight and 11am, when conditions were at their most dangerous.
Norfolk police dealt with 96 calls between midnight and 1pm, including 67 calls between 8am and 10am yesterday, with many people reporting trees or hedges falling across roads, buildings, and railway or power lines, with surface water and debris in the road also causing problems. The county council’s highways team had cleared about 20 fallen trees from Norfolk’s roads by midday, predominantly in the east and south of the county, and there were eight reports of surface flooding.
Norfolk firefighters also answered calls to more than a dozen fallen trees and two electrical cable faults, both in Suffolk.
Train passengers saw their day disrupted because of the weather, though customers had been told on Sunday afternoon that Greater Anglia services would not be running in the morning rush hour.
The operator’s services from Norwich to Cambridge, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft were the only ones to run in Norfolk, with passengers advised to travel to Cambridge to reach London if their journey was essential. A spokesman said people unable to use their tickets yesterday would be able to use them today.
Meanwhile, First Capital Connect suspended its King’s Lynn-London service because of fallen trees near Royston, and all trains leaving Lynn were cancelled until the afternoon when a half-hourly service to Cambridge was reinstated. The company said it was unable to offer replacement buses, but passengers could use their tickets tomorrow or obtain a refund.
Damage to power lines also caused problems for homes and businesses, with power cuts hitting hundreds of thousands of people.
UK Power Networks said it had restored power to 150,000 properties in the east of England and 100,000 in the south-east by early afternoon, after drafting in five times as many engineers as normal, but around 900 homes in Norfolk, 31,000 in Suffolk and 260 in Cambridgeshire were still without power last night.
Volunteers from the British Red Cross were also on hand to help people in the worst affected areas, and engineers were carrying out helicopter patrols to check overhead power lines.
Tourist attractions were also affected by the weather.
Broads Tours cancelled river trips and dayboat operations, but is expecting to be open again today, while Oxburgh Hall closed its woodlands yesterday morning as a precaution. The WildRootz area at Pensthorpe nature reserve will be closed until it dries out.