Winds of up to 80mph brought travel chaos to parts of Britain today, killing a lorry driver and forcing ports and bridges to close.

The severe weather affected large parts of southern and northern England, with areas of Scotland likely to be hit hardest later tomorrow.

A 45-year-old man died when his HGV was blown over into the central reservation near junction 38 of the M6 in Tebay, Cumbria.

A 20-year-old driver was also injured in Guildford, Surrey, when a tree brought down by the gales landed on his car.

"Police can confirm a 45-year-old has died in a fatal road collision on the M6," a spokesman for Cumbria police said. "The driver was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Police are warning motorists to take the winds into account and drive carefully."

A spokesman for the South East Coast Ambulance Service said a man trapped in his vehicle by a fallen tree had been taken to hospital.

Today's high winds also forced the temporary closure of both carriageways of the M6, near junction 44, after a lorry jack-knifed.

A total of nine vehicles between junctions 36 and 44 of the motorway were blown over by the winds, the Highways Agency said.

Elsewhere, the Port of Dover was closed to shipping at 8.20am this morning, with winds gusting at up to 60mph.

"The port has been closed in the interests of safety because of the high winds," a spokeswoman said. "We would ask passengers expecting to travel to first contact their operator for further details."

In Scotland, gale force winds and heavy snowfall also affected motorists. The busy Forth Road bridge was closed to northbound traffic after a lorry overturned, and no high-sided vehicles were allowed across.

It reopened for cars at 11am but remained closed to high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorcycles.

In the south-west of Scotland, fallen trees also led to road closures. Police warned that heavy snow and a number of minor incidents around Aberdeenshire were causing problems for motorists.

Earlier, forecasters had predicted severe weather ahead, including the possibility of blizzards across the higher regions of Scotland.

"We're forecasting much colder weather to spread southwards across the UK during Friday and persisting into Saturday, giving heavy snow in places," a Met Office spokesman said.

"Accumulations of 10cm of snow could occur locally, with up to 20cm on higher ground. Areas most at risk include northern and western Scotland and Northern Ireland."



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