DRIVERS of high-sided and vulnerable vehicles are being told to avoid the motorway as wind speeds gust beyond 65mph.

The A1 has been closed southbound between J40 and J39 near Pontefract in West Yorkshire due to two overturned lorries blocking the carriageway.

Drivers are being diverted off at Junction 40 for the M62.

In a seperate incident, two lanes were closed on the M6, southbound as a freight vehicle tipped and shed its load across the carriageway, between Tebay and Kendal.

Road users in the North are being urged to check the weather and driving conditions before setting out – with the Met Office forecasting high winds throughout the day.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for the North with south westerly gusts up to 70mph predicted from around 3pm and into early Saturday morning.

Strengthening south westerly winds through tomorrow will lead to gusts 60 to 65 mph, locally 70 mph in the most exposed sections of the road network across northern England.

Trans-Pennine routes, the M6 through Cumbria, and the A1 north of Leeds look especially prone.

With the first Amber Alert of the New Year, drivers of high-sided vehicles and other vulnerable vehicles such as caravans and motorcycles are being urged to avoid using exposed sections of motorways and other routes across the North.

The Highways Agency, which operates and maintains motorways and major A roads in England is working closely with the Met Office to monitor weather conditions and maintain safe roads and reliable journeys.