QEII Bridge at Dartford Crossing reopens as Met Office issues weather warnings for gales, rain and snow in Kent
Both the Sheppey Crossing and QEII Bridge at the Dartford Crossing have been reopened after high winds battered the county - adding to Kent commuters' traffic woes.
The Highways Agency said all Kent-bound traffic on the M25 was earlier diverted via the eastern Dartford tunnel.
It came as heavy rain and gale-force winds of up to 80mph lashed Kent while the threat of further flooding continues.
A battered QEII Bridge is closed in high winds. Picture: Kent Highways
Commuters are facing even more disruption on the county's roads as the M2 remains closed between Sittingbourne and Faversham because of a huge sinkhole.
Meanwhile, another carriageway collapse was reported at 9pm on Wednesday in Court Road, Burham, near Walderslade.
Kent County Council said the road would be closed between Church Street and Margetts Lane until further notice to allow repairs to be carried out.
And Southeastern services were being severely disrupted into the evening rush-hour because of fallen trees and two landslides - as well as 50mph speed restrictions imposed by Network Rail.
Meanwhile, passengers on cross-Channel ferries operated by P&O Ferries, My Ferry Link and DFDS Seaways are all experiencing severe delays.
Queues build on the Kent approach to the Dartford Crossing. Picture: Highways Agency
Traffic is diverted to the Dartford tunnel. Picture: Highways Agency
The Sheppey Crossing was shut in both directions at about 4pm, with traffic being diverted via the Kingsferry Bridge. It, and the Dartford bridge, were later reopened as winds subsided.
A truck trailer overturned on the A20 at Dover. Picture: Richard Law
Several weather warnings are in place with up to 25mm of rain expected to fall in the county.
The Met Office issued a triple whammy of alerts for the region, with an amber warning for wind and yellow warnings for rain... and even snow.
High winds caused a lorry trailer to overturned on the side of the A20 at Dover this afternoon.
The vehicle was parked in a lay-by, not far from the Roundhill tunnel when extreme gusts swept one of its trailers onto its side at about 1.30pm.
No one has been injured and the lorry driver told police he will attempt to move the trailer once the winds have died down.
Witness Richard Law said: "The winds are damaging trucks on the A20 near Dover. It's dangerous right now."
Gales begin to hit the Folkestone seafront this afternoon. Picture: Gary Browne
Deal pier and Jasin's restaurant was closed at about 2.50pm as strong winds and rain lashed the coastline.
Pier attendant Chris Burrows said: "We won't be reopening till 8am tomorrow. It's definitely too dangerous for people to walk on the pier so we've made the decision to close."
Motorists - many of them having diverted from the M2 - were warned to expect delays in Pier Road, Gillingham, after one lane was closed due to flooding under the rail bridge.
And drivers hoping to avoid the A249 tonight will not be able to use Hollingbourne Hill, in Maidstone, as the village route has been blocked by a fallen tree.
Southeastern passengers have been suffering severe delays, with a 50mph blanket speed restriction on the whole network because of the weather.
Landslips at Stonegate as well as between Robertsbridge and Battle are causing disruption on the line between Tonbridge and Hastings.
A landslide at Stonegate is causing disruption on the Tonbridge line. Picture: Southeastern
Scene of the landslide at Stonegate causing train problems. Picture: Southeastern
The track has been left unstable at Stonegate after a landslide. Picture: Southeastern
The landslips have also closed the line between Wadhurst and Battle, with replacement buses carrying passengers between these stations and a train service between Tonbridge and Wadhurst.
In other Southeastern train incidents affecting Kent passengers, trains were suspended because of fallen trees on the line between:
- Ashford International and Maidstone East
- Canterbury East and Faversham
- Canterbury West and Ashford International
Southeastern spokesman Mike Gibson said: "We've had a number of fallen trees across the county.
"The weather conditions are extremely bad at the moment. We're advising people to check before they travel."
A Met Office forecast today said the county was likely to be hit with a "swathe" of southwesterly gales, which could be severe in places.
The statement said: "The public should be prepared for the the risk of disruption to transport and possibly also power supplies.
"In addition, large waves are likely to affect some coasts."
Workers battle to protect houses in Patrixbourne from flooding last week
After some areas of Kent have been hit by repeated flooding, the Environment Agency today said sandbag walls are being constructed to reduce the flood risk at Bridge, Barham, Littlebourne and Wickhambreaux.
Howard Davidson, Environment Agency regional director, said: "With further heavy rain forecast this week bringing with it the high risk of further flooding across the south east, my sincere sympathy goes out to those who have already suffered the dreadful experience of being flooded.
"With further rain expected in the coming days, after the wettest January on record in England, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. All this week severe and unsettled weather will continue to threaten communities."
Meanwhile, police are warning of tough weather conditions, with 50mm of rain set to fall in parts of Kent until Friday.
"Anyone heading out over the next few days is urged to stay alert to any potential dangers particularly in and around flood water" - police spokesman
That is the amount that would normally be expected to fall in a month.
More high winds are expected on Friday - gusting to 60mph.
Leaflets created by the Environment Agency have been handed to residents in Little Venice in Yalding – which has previously been evacuated – plus other areas at risk of flooding including properties in East Peckham, Wye, Canterbury, Ashford, Alkham, Grove Ferry and Fordwich.
Around 20 properties on the Little Stour - also known as the Nailbourne River – have been identified as most at risk.
A police spokesman said: "Anyone heading out over the next few days is urged to stay alert to any potential dangers particularly in and around flood water.
"The advice is to stay away from flooded areas and avoid driving through water if possible."
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