Road traffic officials have confirmed that the Dartford Tunnel has been temporarily closed due to high winds caused by Storm Katie. According to the latest updates from the scene, both Tunnel 1 and Tunnel 2 are ‘swaying excessively’ due to the latest adverse weather, and strong gusts have been concentrated within each tunnel – earlier today this led to a number of vehicles being blown out of the other end.
Dutch motorist Barry Voortechs described what he said was a ‘terrifying experience’ earlier today. He said: ‘I entered the tunnel in very strong winds at 45 miles per hour to ensure that I was under the speed limit, and all of a sudden I felt my car being pushed along – I had no control whatsoever. Within a few seconds, I noticed that my speed had increased to 100 miles per hour and my brakes were useless. I passed the speed camera and it flashed, but hopefully the operator will see sense and take no further action.’
Nigel Payd is the Operations Manager for Dartford Crossing Safety Alliance, and he said that the tunnels had been closed with ‘absolute safety’ in mind. He said: ‘The strong winds have turned the two Dartford Tunnels into weapons of vehicular destruction, and therefore they will remain closed under the winds return to a safe level. We are sorry to hear about Mr Voortechs’ experience, and he is more than welcome to appeal his speeding fine when it arrives. Provided that he can supply his own evidence of the wind speed in the tunnel, the appeals process is open to him.’
In a joint statement between public transport companies, government officials and Aldi, members of the public were warned to expect disruption. It read: ‘Until Storm Katie has passed, bus operators will only be running single-decker buses as a precaution, and we would also strongly discourage people from breaking into supermarkets on Easter Sunday. A number of petrol stations will be limiting fuel purchases to five litres until 10am on Tuesday to ensure that petrol and diesel stocks don’t run out, and intu Lakeside will only be accessible by hovercraft.’
Local mums have already taken to Facebook groups in their thousands to try and find out what child-friendly activities will still be running in the event of anything from ‘a light drizzle’ to ‘Essex Atlantis.’ One user, who posts under the name Joanne fulltimemummy sexbomb jojotits wrote: ‘Wots on in town if its rainin ova easter? Last time we went 2 the park and it woz wind my little one fell ova a tree branch and her dad wasnt there as he neva wants to see his kids his new bird aint happy wiv me asking for help as she has five of her own at home as well and he never gives me nuffink but he just bort a new iPhone 6 and some weed.’