LATEST: Storm Henry brings gales

Storm force winds blew down a tree completing blocking the Sinclairs Hill road near Rachel Drive in Duns on Tuesday morning.

Storm force winds blew down a tree completing blocking the Sinclairs Hill road near Rachel Drive in Duns on Tuesday morning.

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Storm Henry is expected to bring severe gale force winds which could reach up to 90mph in exposed parts of the Borders later today (Monday) and overnight into tomorrow morning.

Two severe weather warnings have been issued - an Amber Wind Warning (Low likelihood of High impacts) is in place valid from 1500 on Monday through to 0900 on Tuesday. Around this is a Yellow wind warning (Low of Medium impacts) from 0900 Monday to 0900 Tuesday. The Amber warning covers the northern areas of the Borders where the Yellow warning covers the whole area.

Jim Fraser, SBC’s Emergency Planning Officer said: “We expect to see winds gradually becoming stronger during today with the strongest winds expected from later into the evening and into Tuesday. We may expect to see gusts widely reaching 70 to 80mph and in the most exposed locations, gusts to 90 mph are possible during the evening and into Tuesday.

“Our Emergency Bunker is opening at 3pm today and will remain open through the night until 9am tomorrow morning to co-ordinate the multi-agency response to any impact of the high winds.

“Residents should expect travel disruption and difficult driving conditions, so please take extreme care when you are out and about.”

The Council’s website at www.scotborders.gov.uk and social media channels at www.facebook/sbcouncil and www.twitter.co.uk/scotborders will be updated throughout this period. The Council will also use the SB Alert messaging system to highlight any potential issues to local residents. If you have not already done so, please sign up for this free service at www.sbalert.co.uk

Borderers can view the detail of the weather warning from the Met Office website.

Meanwhile the AA is stressing that drivers must not ignore warnings about Storm Henry, particularly in Scotland and the north of England.

Max Holdstock, the AA’s Patrol of the Year, said that high winds present significant hazards for drivers.

“Wind in the UK rarely blows steadily – and with Storm Henry, gusts of 90mph can be expected in some places..

“You can easily be blown off course especially on exposed roads; when crossing bridges, passing gaps in hedges or buildings or emerging from a cutting.”

An AA-Populus* study found that 1 in 10 lack confidence when driving in strong winds.

The study also found that just over half of drivers (53%) said that they were ‘very confident’ driving in strong wind.

But, Max Holdstock points out, gusty winds can catch out even the most experienced drivers.

“In country areas, there is a high risk of trees and branches being blown into your path while in urban streets, high winds will pick up anything not properly fixed – such as fence panels, wheelie-bins, trampolines or even garden sheds.

“And you should give a particularly wide berth around cyclists or motor-cyclists.”

The AA says that drivers should keep their speed down and keep both hands firmly on the wheel especially if their vehicle is being buffeted by gusts or is in the slipstream of other vehicles. Max says: “The faster you are driving, the longer it takes to get your vehicle under control again if you have been blown off-course by a sudden gust.”

Heavy rain is also often associated with high winds and drivers should beware of flooded roads. He adds that if you break down on a motorway or busy road, it’s possible that other vehicles, especially high sided vehicles and trailers, might veer into your car if they are blown off course so it’s best to get away to a safe location, ideally behind a crash barrier if there is one, well away from your car.

“It is dangerous to drive in the most severe conditions,” Max Holdstock says. “But if you must, be prepared. Plan your journey and allow extra time, keeping an ear out for local radio traffic reports. Download the AA App which provides live AA RoadWatch traffic reports from Inrix. And take warm and waterproof clothing and a fully-charged mobile phone, as well as, high-energy snacks such as chocolate and drinking water.

“Bear in mind that it could take some time for you to be rescued especially if the road has been closed by fallen trees, flood water or a collision.”