Blowin' in the wind
PUBLISHED: 11:26 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:33 23 August 2010
As 85mph storms battered Britian commuters int the Gravesend and Dartford areas struggled to work. In Dartford the QE2 bridge was shut from 6am and the Environment Agency warned people to stay away from the coast. The Sheppey Crossing was also closed as
As 85mph storms battered Britian commuters int the Gravesend and Dartford areas struggled to work. In Dartford the QE2 bridge was shut from 6am and the Environment Agency warned people to stay away from the coast.
The Sheppey Crossing was also closed as 50mph winds blew in and the Port of Dover was closed after winds of up 80mph were recorded in the English Channel.
Structural damage was reported across the South East as the winds gathered pace and British Airways cancelled 11 flights at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, while low-cost airline Flybe said it also axed some services.
Kent Fire and Rescue Services said on Monday: "It has been an uneventful night but we are bracing ourselves for later."
The Environment Agency opened its national incident room, warning of the risk of high waves and flooding in southern England. Staff urged people to stay away from exposed coastal areas and to check for flood warnings in their area.
Paul Leinster, Environment Agency director of operations, said there would be a "potent cocktail" of strong winds, waves and high tides continuing until today.
The Met Office said the winds were not hurricane force, although it was a serious storm. People were warned not to go to watch the huge waves breaking around the Kent coastline.
Operation Stack was not in place on Monday but with no cross-Channel ferries running police warned it could be reintroduced at any time. A garden gazebo also obstructed trains near Gravesend on Monday morning and a corrugated iron roof blew on to tracks near Gravesend. Most trains ran at half their normal speed and buses were on standby at key stations in case services were suspended completely and debris was reported on the A2 near Greenhithe. There were reports of force 12 hurricane winds sweeping up the Channel.
The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for much of the UK. However, reports that the storm could compare with the infamous 'hurricane' of 1987 are greatly exaggerated, said Met Office spokesman Sancha Lancaster. She said: "It's a winter storm but it's not the great storm of 1987.
"We get storms like this every year but it's been relatively calm this winter.
"People have been lulled into a false sense of security.