WEATHER WARNING: Lincolnshire prepares for storm St Jude

Stormy weather.
Stormy weather.

Motorists are being urged to stay off the roads if possible tomorrow, Monday October 28, morning due to high winds as storm St Jude moves across Lincolnshire.

Weather predictions for Lincolnshire have developed over the last couple of hours. The forecasted low pressure will now take a more southerly track across the country, leading to slightly less powerful winds in the early hours of Monday.

There is, however, still a very real danger for people travelling between the hours of 7am to 10am in the county on Monday.

A sharp strengthening of gusts between 60 and 70mph, with isolated gusts of 80mph, will make driving very hazardous. A band of extremely heavy rain throughout the early hours will add to these hazards and increase the risk of localised flooding.

An amber flood warning has been issued for the whole of the East Midlands and there is a particular risk of isolated flooding in the North of Lincolnshire.

Supt Shaun West said: “We are appealing to motorists to delay travelling until after 10am tomorrow if at all possible. If people to need to travel we would urge them to drive to the conditions and be conscious of flying debris, unstable high-sided vehicles and reduced visibility due to rain and spray.

The storm has been named St Jude after the patron saint of lost causes, whose feast day is tomorrow.

It will develop over the Atlantic and is expected to hit the South West late tonight, before moving north-eastwards across England and southern Wales.

Heavy rain will accompany it, with strong winds in the early hours of tomorrow, but the storm is expected to have moved out over the North Sea by lunchtime, leaving strong breezes in its wake.

The Met Office described the storm as not one “you would see every year”, and said the expected wind strengths would be similar to storms in March 2008, January 2007 and October 2000.

It has issued an amber warning, meaning ‘’be prepared’’, for the southern half of England and the southern half of Wales.

It gave a lesser yellow warning, meaning ‘’be aware’’, for the rest of Wales and England up to the border with Scotland.

Frank Saunders, chief forecaster at the Met Office, said last night: “We are confident that a severe storm will affect Britain on Sunday night and Monday. We are now looking at refining the details about which areas will see the strongest winds and the heaviest rain.

“This is a developing situation and we’d advise people to stay up to date with our forecasts and warnings over the weekend, and be prepared to change their plans if necessary. We’ll continue to work closely with authorities and emergency services to ensure they are aware of the expected conditions.”

Atlantic storms of this type usually develop further west across the ocean, losing strength by the time they reach the UK and Ireland.

But this is expected to appear much closer to land, potentially moving across the country while in its most powerful phase.

A strong jet stream and warm air close to the UK are contributing to its development and strength.

Chris Burton, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “We are going to see some heavy and persistent rain heading north across England and Wales overnight from early this evening, from the South West.

“As the rain pushes north the winds will pick up, and by midnight there should be gusts of about 60mph across south-west England.

“Through the early hours much of southern England will see winds of 60-80mph, maybe closer to 90mph in exposed areas on the south coast.

“Further north, in south Wales, the Midlands and East Anglia these will be between 50mph and 70mph.

“The storm is going to move through very quickly, and as we go into Monday morning the winds will ease off from the South West, and by lunchtime most areas will start to see the winds ease off and die down.

“Rains will also clear through to the east through the morning, leaving a few showers in the afternoon.”

The Environment Agency has teams working to minimise river flood risk, clearing debris from streams and unblocking culverts, and are closely monitoring water levels so they are ready to issue flood warnings if necessary.

A spokesman said: “We are supporting local authorities who will respond to any reports of surface water flooding.

“Seafronts, quaysides and jetties should be avoided due to the risk of overtopping by waves and wind-blown shingle.”

Martin Hobbs, head of asset resilience at the Highways Agency, said: “Be aware of sudden gusts of wind and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and bicycles plenty of space.”

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. Councillor 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.”

David Cameron said he has spoken to the organisations responsible for public safety during the storm.

The Prime Minister wrote on Twitter: “ I’ve just chaired a call with various Government departments and agencies to hear about all the plans to ensure people are protected from tonight’s storm.”

The British Red Cross has teams ready to assist people stricken by the storm, and urged households to prepare for possible blackouts.

Simon Lewis, head of emergency response at the humanitarian organisation, said: “ It’s important people are ready should the worst happen. Make sure you have torches at hand, as well as a battery powered or wind up radio to keep up to date with weather warnings and information for your area.

Taking a few minutes to get together an emergency kit can make a huge difference.”

Network Rail warned there is likely to be disruption to trains from fallen trees and localised flooding on Monday if the weather forecasts prove to be accurate. Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s managing director of network operations, said: “We are monitoring the forecast closely and have put in place agreed industry plans for dealing with difficult conditions such as these.

“Our maintenance teams will be out over the weekend to check that key drainage points are clear and we will have additional teams available across the network to clear fallen trees and repair any damaged equipment as quickly as possible to allow train operators to keep services running safely. As ever, safety is our top priority.”

A number of operators will be running revised timetables on Monday in response to the conditions

Advice is as follows:

Consider the impact of the weather on travel - If at all possible, motorists are being advised to delay travel on Monday morning until after 10am. You may face significant disruption if you are attempting to travel between 7am and 10am, or attempting to get your children to school. It is not thought at this stage that schools will have to close, but people should keep listening to local radio for the latest updates.

If the weather deteriorates as predicted on Monday morning, roads may become blocked by fallen branches and trees and consequently become severely congested - listen to local radio which will keep you up to date with the latest roads information. Flying debris could also be an issue and motorists should be vigilant. Heavy rain and spray from the roads could drastically reduce visibility and motorists should drive to the conditions.

The wind may be severe enough to blow over high-sided vehicles and caravans and blow off-course, motor cycles, pedal cycles - simply make a judgement not to venture out if the weather is severe.

As well as going to work, safety at work will be an issue if you are having to work outside - is that work really necessary?

Be aware of the danger of falling masonry; falling trees or branches; potentially unsafe walls and buildings; fallen power lines - they can get blown about and if they are live they could be lethal!

There is now a potential for flooding and residents should keep an eye on the Environment Agency website for updates and advice on the protection of property.