EXTRA engineers have been drafted in to help restore power to thousands of homes across the region.

An amber warning of wind - the second most severe - was issued by the Met Office and is valid until 6pm tonight.

Power cuts are still affecting around 5,000 houses across the area including Milnthorpe, Arnside, Grange, Tebay and many west coast towns. Some areas may not be restored until tomorrow morning, said a Electricity North West spokesperson.

At its peak 24,000 homes were without power across the North West - with Cumbria one of the worst hit.

The spokesperson added that the British Red Cross is on standby to provide support for vulnerable customers, such as those in care homes.

The continual high winds are also making it harder for engineers to climb poles to fix faults.

Flood alerts remain in place for rivers Brathay, Rothay and Winster while a flood warning is in place for Keswick campsite.

A Met Office spokesperson said: "The worst of the winds are likely to transfer across northwest Wales and much of northern England during the day on Friday bringing gusts of 60 to 70 mph widely with locally 80 mph gusts affecting west coasts and high ground for a time.

"The public should be prepared for disruption to transport and power supplies."

Due to the continuing hazardous conditions on the A66 the snow gates have been closed at Brough, closing the road in both directions.

Just after 12pm police received a report that a caravan had been blown onto its side, blocking both lanes on the A66 at North Stainmore, Kirkby Stephen. No one is believed to have been injured but there will be delays in the area while recovery takes place. 

One lane of the M6 between Eden Bridge and J43 has been shut after it is believed a HGV jack-knifed causing diesel to spill on the road. 

A HGV was blown off the road at 2.45 pm at the Shap interchange on the M6.

The driver sustained no injuries and the road was not blocked.

Fallen trees have closed the A592 between Newby Bridge and Windermere, the A5087 Coast Road between Cooper Lane and Swinestead Lane, the road between Lowther village and Askam and the road between Grayrigg and Little Docker.

The A591 near Thirlmere has re-opened after a tree had blocked the road earlier.

There are also concerns about potential trees falling in the area on the A595 at Muncaster Castle.

A 50mph speed limit is in force on the M6 through the region.

All lines on the West Coast Main Line between Preston and Carlisle are suspended. Virgin Trains said buses are replacing trains.

The Wansfell Race, which attracts more than 100 fell runners, has been cancelled. National Trust property Sizergh Castle and Lake District National Park Authority's visitor centre, Brockhole are both closed due to the adverse weather conditions.

Elsewhere damage was caused to the wall around Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team's base by a fallen tree.

Occupants of a property on Westmorland Street, Barrow, were evacuated after part of the property collapsed. The area is closed to traffic at this time, which includes a closure on Westmorland Street and Rutland Street.

Anyone worried about vulnerable family or friends coping without electricity should contact Electricity North West on 0800 195 4141.