With Storm Eunice’s extremely strong winds set to bring significant disruption to the southern half of the UK on Friday, Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) leaders are urging local residents and people needing to travel in or through Kent tomorrow to be prepared.
An amber wind warning is now in force for large parts of the country, including Kent, from 3am to 9pm on 18 February as Eunice sweeps in from the Atlantic and powers across the country west to east before heading out to the North Sea. The strongest winds in the South East are expected between 9am and 2pm.
The Met Office is forecasting there is a good chance flying debris could pose a danger to life and inland gusts of 60-70mph, potentially 80mph at times, are likely to damage buildings and bring down power lines. It means power cuts and other services, such as mobile phone coverage, could be affected.
Roads, bridges and railways will also be impacted and there will be delays and cancellations to bus, train and ferry services and flights. It is likely there will be falling branches and some uprooted trees.
KRF Tactical Lead and Kent County Council (KCC) Senior Highways Manager Toby Howe said it was vital people keep in touch with traffic, travel and weather updates to ensure they stay out of harm’s way.
Toby Howe said: “The Met Office forecast is clear that Eunice is a serious storm that is expected to bring significant disruption to Kent.
“The strongest winds are forecast between mid-morning and mid-afternoon on Friday, and gusts could peak at over 80mph, making it likely to be the most powerful weather systems we have seen in Kent for many years.
“Driving conditions across the county will likely be dangerous at times, especially for high-sided vehicles, some bridges will shut and roads and rail lines could be blocked by fallen trees and debris.
“We all need to take the Met Office warnings very seriously and I urge everyone to take sensible precautions to keep safe and not put others, including the emergency services, unnecessarily at risk.”
Steps you can take to stay safe in a storm include:
- KEEPING UP TO DATE with the latest weather forecast and weather warnings – by visiting the Met Office website or following the Met Office’s social media channels, including on Twitter via @metoffice, @metofficeSEEng and @metofficeUK. The key hashtags to follow are #weatherready #weatherwarnings and #StormEunice. You can also follow the Met Office on You Tube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok
- FOLLOWING THE MET OFFICE’S SEASONAL ADVICE – read ‘How to stay safe in a storm’
- IF YOUR TRIP IS ESSENTIAL, CHECKING YOUR ROUTE BEFORE SETTING OFF – for where to go for the latest traffic and travel updates in Kent visit KCC’s Travel & Transport page here, and
- IF YOU MUST TRAVEL, ALLOWING EXTRA TIME TO GET TO YOUR DESTINATION – because driving conditions in storms are difficult and possibly dangerous and you are likely to face delays. Also follow National Highways advice about travelling on major roads in high winds
- NATIONAL HIGHWAYS – in collaboration with the Met Office, has issued a severe weather alert for strong winds covering several areas, including the South East, between 6am and 6pm on Friday. It means high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes could be blown over on specific stretches of road including, in Kent, the: A2 Jubilee Way close to Dover; M2 J2-J3 Medway Viaduct; A249 Kings Ferry / Sheppey Crossing, and A282 QE2 Bridge / Dartford Bridge. The QE2 Bridge will be closed at 5am on Friday and contraflowing south-bound traffic via the East Tunnel. Emergency National Highways road traffic crews will be on site and, once the winds have cleared and safety checks have been completed, will re-open the bridge as soon as they can.
- KCC HIGHWAYS – extra crews and tree surgeons are on stand-by to close and clear roads of fallen trees and debris as quickly as possible. To report any emergency issues, including fallen trees in the road, to KCC Highways call 03000 418181, between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday, or on 03000 419191 at all other times.
- SOUTHEASTERN trains – will be operating a reduced timetable and enforcing a 50mph speed restriction across most of its network on Friday. Read the latest from Southeastern here
- CROSS-CHANNEL ROUTES – anyone booked to travel to and from France via Port of Dover or Eurotunnel on Friday should keep in touch with their operator. Full contact details are here: Eurotunnel; P&O Ferries and DFDS. Freight drivers heading to cross-channel ferries and shuttles should check with their operators and follow instructions from overhead signs on the motorway.
- UK POWER NETWORKS – say it is possible there will be outages across Kent and high winds will likely mean it won’t be safe for crews to start carrying out repairs to restore power until later Friday afternoon. Vulnerable customers will be prioritised but anyone who suffers a power cut can contact UK Power Networks by calling 105. Visit ukpowernetworks.co.uk/power-cut/contact-us for further 24/7 contact details.
- GAS LEAK – if you suspect a gas leak, call the National Grid emergency line on 0800 111 9999.
ON THE COAST
- ENVIRONMENT AGENCY – while a coastal surge is not expected along the Kent coast, some flood alerts will be in place and the strongest Eunice winds, potentially over 80-90mph, will be experienced in coastal and exposed areas. The EA is warning that large waves are likely and beach material could be thrown onto sea fronts, coastal roads and paths and properties. Wave watching and posing for storm selfies could put you, and others, including the emergency services, in danger. In the event of flooding, call the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.
- Call 999
- NHS – the vaccination bus scheduled to be at Asda in Chatham on Friday has been cancelled.
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES AT HOME
- Look out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours, particularly if there are power losses where you live, and
- Lock shed doors and secure garden furniture, trampolines, wheelie bins and other outdoor items that could blow away in strong winds.
- Secure any street furniture like tables, chairs, and
- Secure or bring signage at the front of premises inside so it doesn’t pose a risk to others.