Storm Barbara set to spark Christmas chaos and power cuts

The storm is also set to cause chaos for people travelling this weekend

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British families are being warned of power cuts this Christmas, as Storm Barbara gets ready to batter the country.

Gusts of up to 70mph could wreak havoc across the country this festive season, with damage to electricity cables expected.

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Northern Powergrid says it is bracing itself as forecasters warn of travel chaos,the Chronicle reports.

The energy company is responsible for electricity in homes across the region and is taking extra measures to ensure it is prepared for the wild weather.

Forecasters say bad weather is expected to hit at 9am on Friday through to 9am on Christmas Eve.

It will hit the North East and Scotland hardest, forecasters say, although fortunately the Midlands will miss the worst of it.

Rod Gardner, Northern Powergrid's head of network operations, said: "We're monitoring the weather very closely and are already taking action to ensure that we have extra engineers ready to restore power and repair any damage to our network caused by Storm Barbara and further expected strong winds over the festive period.

"We will have additional advisors at our local 24-hour contact centre – who can be reached by calling the new, free 105 power cut number - as well as teams in other locations around our business who will be ready to offer our customers support and advice.

"Our website, northernpowergrid.com, has an easy-to-use power cut map and reporting service which our customers can use to report a power cut and get updates about what we're doing to get their lights back on.

"We understand that our customers will be busy preparing for Christmas.

"But we're urging them to take a few minutes to add 105 and bookmark our website on their mobile phones so they are ready to use our services if they need to.

"They may also want to watch our short and informative videos, which will help them know exactly what to do if they do have a power cut."

The electricity distribution company manages a network of 63,000 substations and more than 95,000km of overhead power lines and underground cables.

They say they will deploy all available resources as necessary to deal with any potential damage caused.

And customers with a disability, medical condition or very young families, who may need greater assistance during a power cut and have signed up to the company's Priority Services Register, will be kept updated as a priority, a spokesperson said.

Christmas could see travel disruption as a result of the incoming weather, too, with ferries delayed and bridges closed due to strengthening winds.

The Met Office is urging people to make alternative plans, with Nicky Maxey, from the Met Office, saying: "It has the potential to be quite disruptive so we would urge people to think about their travel arrangements if they're trying to get away for Christmas.

"There is a risk that it could disrupt power supplies, bring disruption to ferries and flights, bring restrictions on bridges.

"It's quite important people think about their travel arrangements as much as they can."

Winter weather around the world

Winter weather around the world