Storm Eunice: Drivers in Lincolnshire advised to expect severe disruption and rail travellers told not to travel on Friday

Drivers are advised that Storm Eunice is expected to create severe driving conditions across much of England, according to National Highways which has issued a rare Red Alert for gales in addition to a Met Office Red National Severe Weather Warning, meaning damage to buildings being likely, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down.

Storm Eunice - warning to high sided vehicle drivers. EMN-220217-162327001
Storm Eunice - warning to high sided vehicle drivers. EMN-220217-162327001

Yellow, amber and red Met Office warnings for wind have been issued in England for the storm, which is going to impact large parts of the country tomorrow (Friday). The National Highways Red Alert relates to the South West between 8am and 11am tomorrow. Exceptionally strong winds are predicted peaking tomorrow morning with 70mph – 80mph gusts, possibly reaching 90mph.

This will lead to dangerous driving conditions for vulnerable vehicles with exceptional sidewinds and wind-blown debris. Road users are advised to avoid travel unless it is essential.

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There is a particularly high risk that high-sided vehicles and other vulnerable vehicles such as caravans and motorbikes could be blown over.

While Storm Eunice’s strongest winds will be in the south, there is an amber warning for wind in the north and a yellow warning for snow. Up to 20cm of snow could gather over high ground, with less significant accumulations in the lower ground. Brisk winds could create blizzard-like conditions and drifting of lying snow.

This comes soon after the impact of Storm Dudley, which saw strong winds disrupt travel in large sections of the north, such as fallen trees on roads in East Lindsey reported to Lincolnshire Police.

National Highways Head of Road Safety, Jeremy Phillips, said: “For those who do travel, we’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys and consider if their journey is necessary and can be delayed until conditions improve. If you do intend to travel, then plan your trip and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey.

“In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down.

A tree fallen on overhead electric wires near Peterborough on the East Coast Main Line due to Storm Dudley. EMN-220217-164952001

Drivers of other vehicles should be aware of sudden gusts of wind which can affect handling and braking, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, and motorbikes plenty of space. In the event of persistent high winds we may need to close bridges to traffic for a period, so please be alert for warnings of closures and follow signed diversion routes.”

Unladen curtain-sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable to windy conditions on high ground. Curtains on empty high-sided vehicles can act as sails when closed, and when high winds arise HGV drivers are advised to open their curtain-sided vehicles if they are empty.

Strong winds in the afternoon will generate drifts and blizzard conditions, particularly on higher ground.

Mr Phillips said: “Gritters are out treating our routes around the clock but it is still important to drive to the conditions when snow is forecast. If you need to travel, make sure you keep your distance and reduce your speed because, even in conditions that seem normal and the snow is not settling, it can be slippery if ice patches have formed, or where fresh salt has not been worked into the carriageway.

Residents are advised not to leave their bins out overnight due to the high winds forecasted. EMN-220217-163524001

“Drivers should plan their journeys, monitor weather reports and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel if they really need to travel.”

National Highways is advising drivers to pay attention to messages on the overhead electronic signs and listen for radio updates. Further information can be found by visiting www.trafficengland.com, following them on Twitter or calling the National Highways Information Line on 0300 123 5000. The latest weather forecast can be seen online at www.metoffice.gov.uk

Lincolnshire County Council has said that with amber warnings issued for Storm Eunice’s high winds it has issued key numbers you need to know in Lincolnshire.
East Midlands Railway (EMR) is advising customers on its Lincolnshire routes to not travel tomorrow (Friday) due to the possible severe disruption Storm Eunice will cause.

Matt Stacey, Head of Stations at East Midlands Railway, said: “As the storm strength and potential impact becomes clearer, we are now strongly advising customers to not travel at all tomorrow.

“We also urge customers to try and complete their journeys today - if possible.

“The strength of Storm Eunice will mean that on Friday there is likely to be widespread disruption to services across the country’s rail network.

“If customers absolutely need to travel we suggest they check our website for the latest information before setting off. They should also leave themselves plenty of extra time to reach their destination.”

The rail operator says roads and bridges are likely to close, it is possible that there will be many falling branches and some uprooted trees too.

These conditions will cause significant disruption across the railway network and trains will be required to travel much slower.

There will also be significantly fewer trains on some routes and journey times will be significantly increased - with some journeys taking up to twice as long to complete.

EMR will do everything it can to offer alternative routes during times of unplanned disruption, however customers should keep in mind that other rail routes are likely to be also affected and road conditions may restrict its ability to respond to incidents with Rail Replacement buses and other road transport.

Customers with tickets for Friday and are not travelling can claim a refund.

Network Rail has deployed additional trained workers at key locations across the East Midlands region to respond to issues quickly, as strong winds and heavy rain are expected to cause widespread disruption for the railway.

Fallen trees and other debris can blow onto the line, with the potential to damage train-powering electric wiring or block the track.

Gary Walsh, East Midlands Route Director for Network Rail, said: “Running a railway through extreme weather is always a challenge. We have extra workers out on the network at key locations, ready to react quickly to Storm Eunice and repair the railway wherever it’s safe to do so. As the weather worsens I’d advise passengers to avoid travelling on Friday and, wherever possible, try to replan your journey when conditions improve.”

North Kesteven District Council is also preparing for a tricky day for bin collections. The authority said: “Where customers can, we ask that they place their purple-lidded bin in a position that’s sheltered from the prevailing wind and reduces the risk of it blowing over. It still needs to be visible and accessible though.

“Also, where they can, to consider the need for putting the bin out overnight.

“Crews will start collecting from around 7.30am and we won’t be able to return for any bins presented too late. Collection times can and do change so please ensure you don’t miss out.

“And if you are able to bring your bin back in as soon as possible after emptying, again that will be enormously helpful.”

They added: “As is usual in windy conditions, our crew have been reminded to be vigilant and take extra care and for any bin that may be in an area where the wind could catch it, to lay bins down after being emptied.“