Saturday, 14 November 2009

Storm in south west blowing itself out

Having had quite a benevolent autumn in my area things are certainly now going downhill. Some very rough weather taking hold with winds last night forecast on the south coast to be severe gale 9 to violent storm 11, in my book that's very breezy indeed. I don't think the peak winds in the early hours were quite as bad as that and certainly in my valley they weren't that exceptional. But as I have remarked before tucked away here in what is effectively a deep gorge sometimes the severity of the weather isn't apparent. When the wind is due south the wind really whistles through here but I think that it had veered south west when the worst of the gale came and from that direction the hill takes some of the sting out of the wind.

Just after lunch now and the main rain has long gone (but plenty more promised, thank you Met Office!) and the wind has abated. Low lying parts of East Devon have suffered a bit and of course the usual exposed parts of our south coast such as Penzance, Porthleven and Lyme Regis have witnessed spectacular waves. There has been no mention of the railway at Dawlish but as the wind hasn't been from the east perhaps the sea wall there has escaped unscathed.

I have to say one of the real pleasures now for me is not having to do the regular commute. By and large I can choose to be out and about when the weather suits. The local radio late yesterday afternoon was full of the problems of traffic congestion on the approaches to the Tamar Road Bridge. Because of the wind the middle lane over the bridge was closed and lorries, caravans and motor bikes stopped from crossing. Now it's some time since I've used 'The Parkway' (the dual carriageway A38 on the north side of Plymouth) and I can't remember but is there a sign to the east of Manadon Flyover advising traffic to turn up on the Tavistock route to avoid the bridge. Similarly west of Saltash to send the heavy stuff north through Callington. Extending that a bit further are there signs at Bodmin and Exeter to try and syphon lorries on to the A30. Possibly but I don't really know - such signs are needed that's for sure for freak weather conditions etc.

Back to good old 'Radio Devon' for a moment: I thought they included cyclists in the road users stopped from crossing the Tamar Bridge in their report. Perhaps I misheard this, or they may have got it plain wrong but I would be surprised if cyclists had been included. My understanding is that cyclists and pedestrians have the cantilevered lane on the downstream side of the bridge to themselves so that there wouldn't be the worry of cyclists being blown by the wind into the path of motorised traffic. How would cyclists cope though if they were prevented from crossing? Basically two possibilities I think. Firstly phone someone they know on the other side who has a cycle rack on the back of their car and beg them to cross over and pick up bike and cyclist. The other one is to cycle back to the station and get the bike on a stopping train and get home that way. A bit problematic though as the railway company don't allow many bikes on the trains particularly at commuting times.

The other alternative of using the Torpoint Ferry and cycling round to Saltash in dark wet and windy conditions would be too awful to contemplate. I can't in all honesty imagine cyclists being stopped from crossing the Bridge, after all they can always dismount and walk their bikes across. No mention in today's paper of cyclists having been stopped so I'm guessing that I have the story about them wrong.

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