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Storms and high wind

Storms can often be accompanied by heavy rainfall and have the potential to cause widespread disruption and even danger to life in severe conditions. The Met Office issues local weather warnings based on the level of impacts and the likelihood of them occurring. The Thames Valley area includes the hills of the Cotswolds, the Chilterns, and the Berkshire Downs and the Ridgeway. The area has significant rural and urban populations that can be affected by severe weather. The majority of the severe weather that affects the Thames Valley area approaches from the south west which is the prevailing wind direction.

How will a storm affect me?

Storms and gales can cause significant damage to buildings and infrastructure and result in fallen trees, flooding, power cuts and disruption to the transport network. Driving conditions could become very hazardous and you may be advised not to travel, and to stay at indoors if being outside has become dangerous.

A storm battered many parts of the UK on 18 January 2007, with gusts of wind up to 77mph recorded at Heathrow. This caused nine deaths and widespread damage to trees and buildings across the UK, along with power disruption. Strong winds can cause significant disruption to businesses due to structural damage and route blockages.

Get prepared
  • How to prepare
    • Stay informed – look at the weather forecast and check the Met Office for weather warnings and details of risk in your area
    • Secure outdoor items such as bins, garden furniture and trampolines to prevent them being blown into roads or through windows
    • Close and fasten windows and doors securely
    • Park vehicles in a garage if available; otherwise keep them clear of buildings, trees, walls, and fences
    • Be aware of flood risk by signing up for flood warnings at Check for Flooding (GOV.UK)
  • What to do during a storm
    • Avoid non-essential travel. If you must travel, allow extra time
    • Drivers should slow down, be aware of side winds and look out for debris blown into the road
    • Take extra care when driving on exposed routes, such as bridges and high open roads, or if towing or in a high sided vehicle
    • Never walk or drive through flood water
    • Do not go outside to repair damage while the storm is in progress
    • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • What to do after a storm
    • Be careful not to touch any electrical or telephone cables that have blown down or are still hanging. Report them to the emergency services or utility supplier
    • Do not walk too close to walls, buildings, and trees as they may have been weakened
    • Make sure that any vulnerable neighbours or relatives are safe and help them arrange repairs if required