Blizzards warning as high winds cause travel problems and power cuts

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An overturned lorry on the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh
An overturned lorry on the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh
11 January 2017 7:30PM

High winds have caused widespread travel disruption and power cuts, with forecasters warning of blizzard conditions to follow.

Snow is expected to fall across northern parts of the UK from Thursday, spreading wider over Friday and Saturday.

Mixed with continuing high winds, it could lead to "blizzard-like conditions" with severe weather warnings in place.

On Wednesday, a gust of 93mph was recorded at High Bradfield in South Yorkshire and 82mph at Emley Moor in West Yorkshire, though the Met Office pointed out these were sites at high elevations.

It said a gust of 77mph recorded in Tiree and 77mph at Port Ellen on Islay, both in the Hebrides, were more representative.

In Scotland, motorists faced long delays as the Forth Road Bridge was closed after a lorry blew over at 2am on Wednesday.

The bridge had been closed to high-sided vehicles at the time, and the 54-year-old driver was charged by police over the incident.

Rail and ferry services were also disrupted in Scotland, while a number of roads across Yorkshire and the north east of England were closed due to fallen trees and damaged buildings.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service received 32 calls on Wednesday morning relating to the windy conditions, including a situation where a tree had fallen through the roof of a bungalow in Birkenshaw.

They also dealt with several loose trampolines in the area.

Teams of engineers from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks had to restore power to about 600 properties in the north of Scotland at the same time as Northern Powergrid, which supplies power to homes in the North East and Yorkshire, said it had 545 customers without power.

Around 900 homes were cut off from supplies in Workington and Whitehaven in Cumbria and more than 500 in Marple, Cheshire, later on Wednesday.

The Energy Networks Association has reminded people they can call 105 - the new, free national phone line - if the weather damages their local power network and affects their electricity supply.

Four walkers had to be rescued by a mountain rescue team in Scotland as the severe weather closed in on them.

The group got into trouble on Ben Lomond but were quickly found by mountaineers, despite freezing conditions and 70mph winds in the area.

Forecasters warned the severe weather is likely to continue for much of the country until Saturday.

Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said conditions will become increasingly cold and windy as polar air spreads south across the country.

"Wintry showers are also likely to affect many areas, most likely falling as snow over higher ground but occasionally also to low ground, especially where showers occur inland overnight," he said.

"On Thursday a band of rain spreading from the west across southern parts is likely to turn wintry during the afternoon, with the potential for heavy snow in places.

"As this clears through the evening, with clear skies there is a risk of a widespread frost and icy conditions quickly forming."

Public Health England is urging people to take action to keep themselves and others warm and well over the coming days.

Director for health protection, Professor Paul Cosford, said: "Think now about what you need to do to prepare: if you need vital medicine or food get it before the bad weather arrives.

"People with underlying health conditions, very young children and those aged over 65 are at greatest risk, so think what you can do to help others."

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