WEATHER bosses have issued amber warnings across all regions for strong gales and have advised drivers to take care and be prepared for disruptions.

The Met Office has issued the warning for strong gales between 8am and 9pm for the South East, East, North East, North West, South West and the Midlands.

Drivers, particularly of high-sided HGVs, caravans and motorcycles have been advised to check driving conditions and to pay particular attention to exposed locations such as coastal or high lying areas and bridges which could be affected by the high winds.

Gusts of 60 to70mph are likely across many inland areas and around 80mph in exposed coastal areas.

A spell of heavy rain will affect many regions for a time, making driving conditions particularly poor.

The Orwell Bridge on the A14 near Ipswich is currently closed and is expected to be closed for the rest of the day.

The Dartford Crossing in Kent is also closed with traffic heading for Kent diverted through one of the tunnels.

Wind speeds are being monitored and both bridges will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

Richard Leonard, Highways England’s Head of Road Safety, has encouraged drivers to check travel conditions before setting off and to consider if the journey is necessary and if it can be delayed until conditions improve.

He added: “If you do intend to travel, then plan your journey and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey.

“In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down.

“Drivers of other vehicles should be aware of sudden gusts of wind which can affect handling and braking, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, and motorbikes plenty of space.

“In the event of persistent high winds, we may need to close bridges to traffic for a period, so please be alert for warnings of closures and follow signed diversion routes.”

People travelling today should drive with extra care, especially at exposed sections of the motorway, as unladen curtain-sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable to windy conditions on high ground.

Mr Leonard added: “Curtains on empty high-sided vehicles can act as sails when closed, and when high winds arise, we advise HGV drivers to open their curtain-sided vehicles if they are empty."

A Freight Transport Association advisory states “When driving an empty curtain-sided vehicle, tie both curtain sides at one end of the vehicle to reduce the effect of side winds”.

HGV drivers are advised by the DVSA to check load security as part of their daily walkaround check.

Further information can be found via or by calling Highways England on 0300 123 5000.

More advice on driving in windy weather is available from the met office.