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Gale force winds cause travel disruption across Kent

By Geoffrey Bew

Gale force winds have brought down trees and forced the closure of several key roads across Kent.

Two yellow weather warnings are in place with gusts of up to 65mph predicted to batter the county.

Strong winds led to the closure of the Dartford Crossing and the Sheppey Crossing and shut the A249 between Key Street Roundabout and M2 junction 5.

A rare sight, no traffic on the QEII bridge
A rare sight, no traffic on the QEII bridge

Shoppers had to be evacuated as the Tesco store at Westwood Cross was closed due to roof damage caused by high winds.

The new Dover District Leisure centre has been forced to close after the roof of a neighbouring business has been damaged.

Boards showing cancelled train services in Kent
Boards showing cancelled train services in Kent

Another victim of wind damage was a petrol station in Grove Green that was left with parts of the roof flapping around.

Homeowners had a lucky escape after high winds brought down a 40ft tree.

A fallen tree was blocking the main road between Herne Bay and Canterbury.

Gallants Lane in East Farleigh was also blocked due to a fallen tree.

The damaged caused to the petrol station in Grove Green. Picture: Rebecca Tuffin
The damaged caused to the petrol station in Grove Green. Picture: Rebecca Tuffin

Church-goers in Whistable had a lucky escape after a tree came down at the entrance minutes before a service was due to start.

Fire crews were also called to Gravesend as winds damaged a block of flats and caused the closure of a leisure centre.

Several train services are were affected, including the line to Tunbridge Wells after a train hit a fallen tree.

The tree has fallen and is blocking the main road between Herne Bay and Canterbury
The tree has fallen and is blocking the main road between Herne Bay and Canterbury

Southeastern says trees have come down or are hanging dangerous over the line in Deal, Rainham, Snodland, Canterbury, Dover, Harrietsham, Broadstairs, Farningham Road, Sole Street, Dumpton Park, and in Elmers End and trains have been limited to 50mph across the whole network due to high winds.

Outside the county, other services to and from Stonegate, Robertsbridge, Battle and Wye were also affected.

In addition, there were delays of up to one hour on DFDS Seaways between Dover and Calais due to adverse weather conditions.

High winds have damaged the roof of Tesco Extra in Broadstairs Picture: Neil Burrow (7663369)
High winds have damaged the roof of Tesco Extra in Broadstairs Picture: Neil Burrow (7663369)

Meanwhile, Dreamland along with large parts of Margate were left without power for 40 minutes.

Experts say strong winds can affect a car’s handling and braking significantly and have urged drivers to slow down so they can anticipate strong gusts and help reduce their impact.

High-sided vehicles can also present a hazard when overtaking.

High winds brought down a tree in Carnation Road, Strood. Picture: Dawn Ellis
High winds brought down a tree in Carnation Road, Strood. Picture: Dawn Ellis

Ella Colley, a weather expert for Halfords said: "Watch out for strong crosswinds and be careful where you park your car - avoid parking underneath trees and tall structures which could be damaged by the wind.

The fallen tree in Gallants Lane Picture by Kristina Broome
The fallen tree in Gallants Lane Picture by Kristina Broome

"Our research shows that there are likely to be many motorists out there struggling to see with their wiper blades failing to cope with the elements.

A felled tree in Mote Park. Picture: Sandy Fleming
A felled tree in Mote Park. Picture: Sandy Fleming

"Poor visibility doesn’t just make driving in the rain unpleasant and more tiring but failing to see a hazard quickly slows your reaction time.

"This can add several car lengths to your stopping distance and make the difference between avoiding a collision and not."

  • To report fallen trees, contact KCC Highways on 03000 419191.

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