70mph gusts of wind cause chaos

GALE force winds caused travel chaos with one van being blown clean off a busy dual carriageway.

Gusts hit 70mph yesterday, and the Met Office warned that the region should expect severe weather over the next few days.

In the space of an hour, a van overturned on the A19, scaffolding was spilled onto the same road and two trees were blown down in Hartlepool.

A white Mercedes van had toppled onto its side on the southbound carriageway of the A19, on the outskirts of the town, at 2.25pm.

Traffic was unaffected near the junction with the A689 as the wind was so strong that the van ended up off the road and on a grass verge.

The driver was able to get to safety and was said to be unharmed.

The police called in the fire brigade to clean up leaking diesel.

A lorry then lost a load of scaffolding on a stretch of road between Trimdon and the A179 at around 2.45pm but it was quickly cleared.

Just over half an hour earlier, a Nissan Almera’s windscreen had been cracked by a branch near the White House pub in Wooler Road, Hartlepool.

Shortly after that, a fallen tree blocked both lanes of the town’s Catcote Road from 2.35pm.

The debris was cleared away within 12 minutes but a telephone line was suspected to have been damaged during the incident.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “The wind has caused all sorts of problems with vehicles blown over, trees falling down and traffic being held up.

“A van was toppled over on the A19 by a gust, but it seems that it was so strong that it was forced off the road.

“A passing motorist called it in to the police and the fire brigade’s attendance was requested as it was leaking diesel. An ambulance also attended but no injuries were reported.

“We had problems caused by high winds right across the force area, including a lorry spilling chairs over the A66 and further trees falling down in the Middlesbrough area.”

A Durham Constabulary spokesman added: “We have had a couple of lorries tipping over on the motorway and we have heard there have been problems with caravans in North Yorkshire.

“It seems that travelling conditions were very difficult.”