December 11 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 28, 2013
East Anglia is today braced for the worst storm in years, with powerful winds of around 70mph set to batter the region.
Forecasters warned that the storm, which has been named St Jude, could be as bad as the great storm of 1987, which caused widespread devastation.
Emergency services said they were prepared for the aftermath of the strong winds.
Blustery winds began causing traffic problems yesterday afternoon after a 30ft-high tree blocked the A1065 near the Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills in Suffolk. The B1112 Station Road at Lakenheath was also blocked after tree fell onto a car. Two people inside were unhurt. An off-duty Forestry Commission worker helped to move the tree.
Meteorologist Dan Holley, from the University of East Anglia-based Weatherquest, said the wind was likely to be the main issue for this region – and it was set to hit us at the worst possible time, during today’s rush hour.
He said that heavy rain was also expected during the night: “It will be heavy and parts could get up to half an inch of rain.”
That is expected to be a prelude to the major problem – the wind.
“It will build up to wind of about 50mph, with gusts of 55mph to 60mph. The strongest winds are likely to be here between about 6am and 9am – with gusts of 65-70mph in coastal areas, right at the same time as the rush hour, unfortunately,” Mr Holley said.
The Met Office has issued an amber warning for Monday, meaning “be prepared”, for people living in the East of England and forecasters are warning that trees could fall down and damage could be caused to buildings and overhead power cables during the storm. The storm has been named St Jude after the patron saint of lost causes, whose feast day is today.
Police officers were on standby overnight in case heavy rain and storm force winds brought chaos. They have urged people to only drive if necessary and to expect delays this morning. Fire crews were preparing for the possibility of a busy morning because of fears of major disruption on the roads and potential flooding caused by the predicted heavy rain.
The East of England Ambulance Service is also braced for the storms and is urging drivers to take care on the roads.
A spokesman for EEAST said: “It’s important that people drive safely all of the time, but in times of bad weather, we’d urge you to take extra care. Lengthen the distance you leave between yourself and the vehicle in front so that you have more time to stop if needs be, as stopping distances can more than double on wet roads. If you have to drive through flood water, go through the most shallow part and test your brakes afterwards.”
UK Power Networks has declared a system emergency, and cancelled routine repairs today to enable more teams to be available for response work. It has brought in more people to handle calls and has been speaking to other power companies to boost its repair teams.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said local authorities would divert staff from their normal duties to help out with emergency relief efforts if required.
They have found emergency accommodation should families be evacuated from their homes, and highways teams are on standby to rescue stranded motorists and clean debris from roads.
Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA’s environment board, said: “Councils are preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. Local authorities up and down the country are preparing to divert staff from their normal duties and have placed additional employees on standby to work with fire crews and other emergency services to get people help if they need it.”
Home insurers are also bracing themselves for the prospect of a high number of storm damage claims.
Rob Townend, claims director at Aviva, said: “We have drafted extra staff into our contact centres so we are poised and ready to help all those who might need us if the worst happens.”