Hurricane force winds of up to 100 mph closed the Port of Liverpool this morning (February 23, 2017) as Storm Doris made its way across the UK.
The Met Office, which presents weather forecasts and data for UK, has declared Storm Doris a “weather bomb” after an intense drop in pressure caused high winds to hit Britain and force port operator Peel Ports to close the Port of Liverpool at 10am GMT amid concerns for employees, contractors and customers.
It issued an update on Twitter at 1pm that said the situation was being monitored and there was disruption, but it expected to resume normal services after the storm passed and it was operationally safe to do so.
Peel Ports also announced that the Port of Sheerness, one of the UK's leading car and fresh produce importers, has also had to close due to the high winds.
Posting on LinkedIn, David Bradley, Operations Director at chemical distributor Newport Industries, said: “Today in Liverpool was probably the worst weather I have ever experienced in a port. In the end we were evacuated under escort by Liverpool Port Police as it was so dangerous and we had a small window in time to get transport up the road.
“So apologies to our customers and hauliers and a word of thanks to Peel Ports for keeping us safe and my team from Staff Force for persevering in the worst of conditions.”
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Port of Sheerness. pic.twitter.com/CWUWqRIYW4
— Peel Ports (@PeelPorts) February 23, 2017
Shipping TV also reported that the Port of Felixstowe was experiencing strong winds, which were gusting to 30 knots by 8am, and 40 knots by 10am, with Felixstowe's ship-to-shore cranes ceasing operation by 7.30am – but maritime operations continued:
The strong winds are not the only force of nature to cause trouble at Port of Liverpool as a large sinkhole opened up at the start of this month (February 2017) at Liverpool2, Britain's newest shipping terminal.
But Peel Ports is facing more than just its fair share of environmental disruption as workers are set to ballot on industrial action after a wave of recent sackings.
The dispute could result in the biggest disruption at the docks since 1995, which was triggered by dockers refusing to cross picket lines set up by 80 men sacked by Bootle-based stevedoring firm Torside.
Workers claim the most recent problems began shortly after Peel Ports awarded its staffing contract to specialist recruiter Blue Arrow in 2015.
According to the notice, a ballot has been sanctioned by the Unite, Britain's largest trade union, which wants the sacked workers re-instated and for Peel Ports to end the contract with Blue Arrow.