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Suffolk/Essex: Weather forecasters warn the worst is still to come

13:47 13 February 2014

Rain and windy weather in Sudbury town centre.

Rain and windy weather in Sudbury town centre.

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Weather forecasters are warning the worst is yet to come after Suffolk and Essex were battered by torrential downpours and winds of up to 55mph forcing the closure of the Orwell Bridge and causing traffic gridlock yesterday.

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And the heavy winds and rain are expected to return in full force tomorrow in what experts claim is becoming the wettest winter in 250 years.

After a brief respite today, when dry, breezy conditions are hoped to ease the saturated land, downpours and gale force winds are expected to return in Suffolk and Essex tomorrow.

Norman Robinson, from the Environment Agency, said: “People really need to keep an eye on the forecast and local conditions as we move into the weekend.

“We could have up to 20mm of rain over already wet ground so river levels will rise again and flood plains will get wetter.

“Travel across the region could be difficult and dangerous in places.”

Forecasters at Weatherquest are predicting winds gusting up to 70mph across the region, with coastal areas expected to fare the worst.

“There’s going to be heavy rain in the afternoon and late into the evening with some very strong winds that could become severe gales again,” said Jim Bacon. “There could be storm force winds from a westerly and southerly direction and some very severe weather through the night.”

Mr Bacon said it was “very difficult” to make exact predictions while the low weather front was still 
forming on the other side of the Atlantic, though he has warned of trouble ahead.

“It can’t be very pleasing with the people who are already struggling to cope with yesterday’s wind and rain to know there’s another front close on its heels to come,” he said.

The warning comes after the region was plunged into travel chaos yesterday with winds of 55mph reported on the Essex coast.

The Highways Agency closed the Orwell Bridge for more than three hours, resulting in severe tailbacks throughout Ipswich and the surrounding area.

Motorists reported journeys of three miles taking as long as 30 minutes, even after the bridge reopened at 5.15pm.

Suffolk police received 17 weather-related calls, chiefly about fallen trees and branches blocking roads, with one toppled telephone pole preventing access to a farm in Horringer near Bury St Edmunds.

Suffolk Highways announced the overnight closure of the A1101 between Hempstead Road and Mildenhall Road roundabout in both directions due to fallen branches.

Parks and cemeteries in Ipswich closed early for fear of falling trees and Ipswich Borough Council advised people to take extra care in those areas.

A fallen tree also blocked the train line at Kennett, causing delays and cancellations to services between Ipswich and Cambridge.

In Essex, police received reports that eight trees had been blown down by mid-afternoon.

With news of the weather closing in, Tendring District Council issued a statement reassuring residents there was no serious risk to the area. The authority said its emergency planning team was monitoring the situation and liaising with the Environment Agency and Met Office.

The Environment Agency has advised people to keep an eye on the local weather situation.

“If you’re at all concerned, make sure you check Flood Warnings on our web site regularly, and if you think you or your neighbours might be at risk, take action in good time,” Mr Robinson said.

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