THE North-East and North Yorkshire experienced a wild and windy day today (Friday) as gales of up to 70mph caused disruption on the region’s transport network.

Heavy rain throughout the day (Friday) also caused disruption and high river levels, although no serious flooding was reported.

On a busy day for travellers, the high winds caused delays and cancellations on the rail network and road closures across the region.

The A66 between Scotch Corner and Brough in Cumbria was closed to all traffic for long periods after initially only being closed to high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes.

A police spokesman said the drivers of high-sided vehicles had ignored warning signs repeatedly, forcing officers to close the exposed route for the safety of all motorists.

Gusts of up to 80mph were recorded near Bowes, near Barnard Castle, County Durham, shortly after a van overturned at the junction of the A66 and A67 at 5.40am.

Durham Police reported a number of trees had blown over during the day but said there had been no major disruption.

In Middlesbrough, roads were closed to cars and pedestrians around the Neptune Sports Centre, in Berwicks Hills, after large sheet metal panels were damaged in high winds.

Council workers used sandbags to weigh the remaining panels down.

North Yorkshire Police said there had been widespread reports of fallen trees blocking roads, including on the A170 at Sutton Bank, as well as reports of a barn roof causing a road blockage at North Cowton, near Richmond, and a sign in the road on the A1(M) on the southbound carriageway at junction 56, near Barton.

A spokesman for the force said the blockages had been dealt with quickly and no road closures had been necessary.

The Environment Agency issued a flood warning for the River Tees at Croft, near Darlington, but it was at Barnard Castle where the river recorded its highest ever levels.

Upper Teesdale, in County Durham, was put on flood alert as the level of the Tees reached 2.79m at 2pm – 11cm above the highest level recorded at that point since November 2009.

Typically, the level of the River Tees in Barnard Castle is between 0.46 m and 1.40m.

Paul Knightley, from weather forecasters Meteogroup, said the winds were expected to calm down overnight, leading to a bright and calm weekend.

He added: “It will still be quite breezy but nothing like what was experienced today (Friday). There will be showers overnight and there may be snow on the tops of the Pennines in the morning but it will be very high up.

“Saturday is looking pretty decent, most places will have a nice day with sunny spells. The temperatures are about average and the breeze will die down.

“Saturday night into Sunday will be a frosty, but Sunday will be another nice day.”