Stay off the roads for now, Only call for real emergencies: Dutch authorities

Truck blown over on the A50 near Heteren, 18 Jan 2018
Truck blown over on the A50 near Heteren, 18 Jan 2018Photo: @RWS_verkeer / Twitter

Dutch infrastructure department Rijkswaterstaat is warning motorists to stay off the roads as strong winds brought by a western storm rage over the country. A code red weather warning is in effect for large parts of the country. The emergency call center is jammed up with people calling about storm damage. The police call on people in the Netherlands to only use emergency number 112 to report actual emergencies.

Drivers in the Netherlands were asked to stay off the roads on Thursday morning and to postpone their travel if possible, Dutch infrastructure agency Rijkswaterstaat said. Very dangerous conditions are expected on the highways, and if people must drive they absolutely should keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

At least 17 trucks were blown over on Dutch highways by 10:45 a.m. The toppled trucks were on the A2, A5, A13, A16, A20 and the A27. The heavy winds led to several expressway closures, including the A4 between Den Haag and Rotterdam, and the A2, A50, and A58 from Den Bosch towards Eindhoven.

One or more trucks were toppled on almost every high bridge in the Netherlands, according to Rijkswaterstaat. Trucks blown over on the A2, A50 and A58 towards Eindhoven means that it is currently impossible to travel between Den Bosch and Eindhoven on the national road network. It is also "very difficult" to travel towards the south of the country due to toppled trucks on the A2 and A27. "Postpone your journey", Rijkswaterstaat says. 

The Kethel tunnel on the A4 between Den Haag and Rotterdam is closed in both directions - there is a threat of plates blowing loose. 

The A2 between from Den Bosch to Eindhoven is closed because a tree blew over onto a car. No one was hurt, Rijkswaterstaat reports. Traffic can't be diverted because of incidents on the other possible routes.

One train crashed into a trampoline that landed on the tracks as the wind added more troubles to the railways in the Netherlands. The unusual accident happened between Alphen aan den Rijn and Gouda before 10 a.m. Shortly after, a train traveling between Deventer and Zutphen struck a felled tree.

Tram traffic in Den Haag was brought to a halt due to the weather, transporter HTM reported on Twitter. Only tram 3 and 4 are still operating, though at reduced capacity, between Den Haag Centraal and Zoetermeer. 

Scaffolding blew over and fell onto a pedestrian at the West Side Inn Hotel on Voorburgstraat in Amsterdam, NH Nieuws reports. The pedestrian was taken to hospital with unknown injuries. 

The 112 emergency call center is being swamped with calls from people reporting storm damage. The police ask that people only call the emergency line in an actual emergency.  "Only call 112 for acute danger or life threatening situations", the National Police said on Twitter. To help with this, the fire department put a diagram on their website showing who to call with what type of report.