Storms cause major damage in Swindon...and there's more to come
3:26pm Monday 30th December 2013 in Latest News
STRONG winds and heavy rain buffeted the town this morning, causing damage to trees and buildings, with further stormy weather expected tomorrow.
Wiltshire Police issued a weather warning to all motorists for a six hour period from 9am to 3pm after heavy rain overnight.
Swindon Council said it had a number of contingency plans in place for circumstances which would arise from flooding or high winds, but that operations would likely resume as normal.
At around midday, the branch of HSBC on Canal Walk had to close temporarily after a panel became dislodged from its roof due to high winds.
A maintenance team and officers from building control at Swindon Council attended the scene, and the panel was removed by a cherry picker.
The oldest tree in Lydiard Park was damaged in the storm earlier today, as its branches were torn away by high winds.
A Swindon Council spokesperson said: “It’s a real shame this has happened, because the tree has been part of the landscape for more than 200 years. We believe it was one of the oldest walnut trees in the country, but unfortunately it has succumbed, as we all do eventually, to old age.
"It was fenced off a while ago for safety reasons because it had begun to get weaker and was starting to rot, but it’s still been a shock to everyone at Lydiard to find it felled by the gales overnight.
“Overall, there has been a lot of tree damage in our parks so far this winter. There have been a number of mature trees which have been brought down, and many others have lost quite large branches. Trees will shed branches naturally so it’s by no means a long-term problem for most of those that have been damaged, but there is a lot of debris about which will take some time to clear up.
“We would remind everyone to be aware of the dangers of walking in amongst trees when it’s windy. We inspect our trees regularly but they can still lose branches or come down completely without any warning. The fact that a tree looks healthy and has withstood a battering from the wind before is no guarantee that it is completely safe.”
Wiltshire Police were called to the M4 between Junction 15 and 16 at 10.30am where a large branch had fallen onto the road, blocking the hard shoulder and half of lane one.
The Highways Agency attended the scene and removed the branch within half an hour.
Two separate crashes also occurred overnight in the Purton area, both as a result of ice on the road near the Pear Tree Hotel. The first occurred just before midnight, and the second at 7.30pm on Sunday evening. None of the drivers were injured.
The worst of the weather is expected tomorrow between 8am and 1pm, with similar high winds and rain affecting the county.
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