Weather warnings have been issued across much of the west of the UK for Monday, with gusts up to 80mph brought by Hurricane Ophelia likely to cause widespread disruption.

Hurricane Ophelia

A Met Office Spokesman commented:

“Hurricane Ophelia is barrelling towards the UK, but it is weakening as it goes. By the time it hits the cooler waters around the UK it will be a storm, but with gusts of wind up to 80mph in some areas and 50-60mph quite common it will certainly feel like a very intense weather system.”

Ireland is due to face the full force of Hurricane Ophelia. In the Republic of Ireland a red wind warning has been issued and the government has deployed the army. Schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland are closed and gusts of up to 92 mph have already been measured off the southern coast of Ireland. The BBC’s Ireland correspondent, Chris Page, said it would be the most severe storm to hit Ireland in half a century. An amber warning for Northern Ireland, parts of Wales and south west Scotland is in force from midday.

A spokesman said:

“A spell of very windy weather is likely on Monday in association with ex-Ophelia. Road, rail, air and ferry services may be affected, with longer journeys times and cancellations possible. Power cuts may occur, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage.

Some damage to buildings, such as tiles blown from roofs could happen, perhaps leading to injuries and danger to life from flying debris. Coastal routes, sea fronts and coastal communities may be affected by spray and/or large waves. The warning has been updated to delay the onset time of the strong winds and increase the likelihood of the event occurring.”

Dr Dave Reynolds, senior forecaster of The Weather Channel, says the strength of the winds could uproot trees and cause structural damage. He said:

“Branches will be torn off many trees, roads will be blocked by falling debris and flooding and blackouts are likely as debris fall on the low voltage distribution network and (moderate risk) lower circuits of the transmission network.”

Expert Motoring Lawyer Ruth Peters provides the following advice:

“Consider whether you really need to make your journey. If it’s not essential delay your journey. If you must drive then make sure you let a close family member or friend know your intended route and try not to travel alone. Always make sure you have your mobile phone with you and it is fully charged should you need to use it. Make sure you have extra fuel for your journey and plan your journey thoroughly.”

Top tips for driving in stormy conditions

Check out our top tips for driving in stormy conditions:

  • Do not travel if a red weather warning has been issued.
  • Check your insurance policy – some policies have exclusions for driving when weather warnings have been issued.
  • Plan your journey – choose a more sheltered route if you can.
  • Do not speed and drive slowly enough to cope with the gusts. High winds can affect handling and braking.
  • Be prepared when driving in exposed areas as vehicles could be hit by sudden gusts of wind.
  • Be very careful when overtaking high-sided vehicles. Driving past large vehicles can result in a sudden gust from the side as you pass.
  • Make sure you hold the steering wheel firmly.
  • Give cyclists, motorcyclists, lorries and buses more room than usual. They get blown around easily by high winds.
  • Motorcyclists especially should avoid travelling in high winds as they can affect the handling of the motorcycle.
  • Keep extra distance between you and the car in front.
  • Make sure that you park your car in a safe place – avoid parking under trees, near buildings etc.
  • Do not attempt to drive through water. If you are unsure of the depth then the edge of the kerb is a good indicator. If you do go through water, drive on the highest section of the road.
  • Test your brakes after leaving flood water.
  • If your engine cuts out after driving through water, do not attempt to restart as engine damage may occur. Call for assistance and have the vehicle at a garage examined for damage.

Ruth Peters – Specialist Motoring Solicitor

Written by Ruth Peters, solicitor, at Olliers Motor Law. If you are facing prosecution as a result of a motoring offence please contact our specialist motoring lawyers on 0808 168 0017 or click here to contact us.

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