Essex: Gales And Rain Hit Christmas Travel
23 December 2013, 15:49
Thousands of us could face major disruption to our Christmas travel plans, as strong winds and heavy rain is forecast across Essex.
The Met Office has issued a severe warning with winds of up to 70 miles an hour expected to hit the county's coast.
The QEII bridge is closing at midday and is expected to stay shut until 4am tomorrow (Tuesday 24 December).
The tunnels will remain open to help maintain the flow of traffic, but congestion is expected so drivers are advised to seek alternative routes if possible or avoid the Thurrock and Dartford areas of Essex and Kent.
Greater Anglia says it will run trains at a reduced speed from 6 o'clock tonight (Monday 23 December).
The company also will not run any services on Christmas Eve until 10am, so they are able to assess if any damage has been caused to overhead wires.
The Highways Agency is advising motorists to take care.
John McTaggart, head of on-road services at the Highways Agency said: "Road users are urged to check traffic and weather conditions before setting out on journeys and to heed any advice such as speed restrictions once they are on the strategic road network.
"Be aware of sudden gusts of wind, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and bicycles plenty of space. In the event of persistent high winds we may need to close certain bridges to traffic for a period, so please be alert for warnings of closures and follow the clearly signed diversion routes."
Flood alerts have been issued by the Environment Agency for the Pincey Brook and its tributaries from Takeley to Harlow including Hatfield Broad Oak, Hatfield Heath and Sheering as well as for the River Stort, Stansted Brook and their tributaries from Clavering to Hoddesdon including Stanstead Mountfitchet, Bishop's Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and Harlow.