DRIVERS in Halton are being warned to take care as heavy rain and strong winds are forecast this afternoon.

Motorists are urged to be particularly careful on the M56 at J12 in Runcorn and crossing the Silver Jubilee bridge.

Met Office forecasters have issued a severe weather alert in the north west with gales up to 80mph a possibility.

The Highways Agency is urging road users to slow down and drive carefully.

Road users are advised to plan their journeys before setting out, check weather conditions, leave extra time for their journeys if travel conditions are poor, and delay their journey if the weather becomes severe.

Traffic management director Simon Sheldon-Wilson said:“We are constantly monitoring the potential impact of weather on our network and are keeping a close eye on the current situation.”

The Met Office is forecasting a vigorous storm bringing spells of heavy rain this afternoon and evening.

Expect south-west to westerly winds to strengthen up to 60 to 70mph quite widely across the north west, possibly reaching 80mph over the most exposed routes along the coast and over the hills.

This will be strong enough to cause severe damage to trees, structural damage and a risk from flying debris, thus likely to generate disruption on parts of the network.