Drivers are being warned to be prepared for severe weather in the North of England tonight and during the weekend.

Highways England has issued an amber weather alert for motorways and major A roads in the North, with gusts of up to 70mph forecast from tonight.

Drivers across the region are being urged to check the weather and driving conditions before setting out on journeys this weekend. High winds are forecast from 9pm tonight (December 4) until 5am on Sunday (December 6).

The south westerly winds are expected to strengthen with widespread gusts in excess of 60mph.

Several roadworks that had been due to take place this weekend have also been postponed.

The new dates for all postponed schemes will be publicised in advance of work taking place.

Phil Stockford, emergency planning manager at Highways England, said: “We issue severe weather alerts when there is a significant risk to vehicles using motorways and major A roads. The amber status means drivers should be prepared before setting out on journeys.

“There’s a particular risk to lorries and other vulnerable vehicles, such as caravans and motorbikes, so we’re asking drivers to slow down and to avoid using exposed sections of motorways and other routes if possible.

“We’re advising drivers to plan their journeys before they set out, checking the forecast and road conditions, as well as to leave extra time for their journeys and to delay their journey if the weather becomes severe.”

The winds are forecast to ease only slightly for a time between 8am and 5pm on Saturday but then increase again up to 60mph or more. The winds will then increase to gusts of 60mph or more before quickly easing after 5am on Sunday morning.

Highways England is working closely with the Met Office to monitor weather conditions and maintain safe roads and reliable journeys. Extra patrols of Highways England traffic officers and recovery vehicles are being deployed across the weekend to help respond to any incidents.