90mph Winds Bring Power Cuts And Travel Chaos
29 January 2016, 09:38
Winds of more than 90mph have hit the west of Scotland as Storm Gertrude sweeps the country, causing power cuts and travel disruption.
Strong winds, heavy rain, snow and ice were forecast in some areas on Friday as the extreme weather continues to batter the British Isles.
Gusts of 91mph were recorded in South Uist, while on the mainland the Forth Road Bridge and Inverbervie in Aberdeenshire were hit by winds of 69mph.
Speeds are expected to reach around 65mph in the Borders and the North East of England later in the day and pushing 80mph in North Yorkshire.
Scottish Hydro is working to reconnect hundreds of homes in the west and north east of Scotland that have lost power in the high winds.
A landslip on the A82 at Letter Finlay between Spean Bridge and Invergarry caused a 150- mile (241km) diversion for journeys between Fort William and Inverness.
Fallen trees are affecting many routes and the Forth, Tay and Kessock bridges have been closed.
Met Office amber ''be prepared'' warnings are in place for Northern Ireland, Scotland and north west and north east England.
Yellow ''be aware'' warnings for rain, snow and ice are in place across much of the UK.
Forecasters said: "Winds are expected to widely gust 60-70mph, possibly up to 80mph along exposed coasts and over hills.
''Be prepared for the likelihood of difficult driving conditions and disruption to travel, such as cancellation to ferry services and bridge closures."
A succession of storms since December has seen widespread flooding and major disruption to travel, with the latest front expected to continue through the weekend.
All schools in the Northern and Western Isles have been closed and train and ferry services vastly reduced in Scotland.
ScotRail is operating a limited service, with routes in the Highlands and west coast particularly affected.
Operators said hundreds of engineers will be deployed across the network to inspect lines, repair damage and reopen routes as quickly as possible.
Phil Verster, ScotRail Alliance managing director, said: ''We will be withdrawing some services until the worst of the storm has passed.
''The safety of our passengers and workforce is our top priority and we cannot run services on these lines until our engineers have thoroughly inspected the network for any damage."
Around 8,500 properties in Scotland lost electricity due to Storm Gertrude.
Scottish Hydro said engineers were working to reconnect supplies in Aberdeenshire, Perthshire, the Western Isles, Skye and Oban but repairs would depend on the weather.
Emergency services were called out to two lorries blown over on the A96 near Huntly and on the M9 near Dunblane in the early hours. The extent of any injuries is not known.
Drivers also had to avoid a trampoline blown on to the Newtonhill flyover near the A90 in Aberdeen at around 6am.
Police Scotland said a member of the public moved it from the road and officers were not needed. A force spokesman advised people to peg down trampolines and garden furniture in high winds.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has almost 40 flood warnings in place covering Ayrshire, Tayside, west central Scotland and the Highlands.
In Glasgow city centre, officials said roads were closed due to dangerous buildings caused by high winds.
Broomielaw was shut in both directions between York Street and Brown Street, with road users urged to avoid the area if possible.
Pitt Street was also completely closed between West Regent Street and West George Street.
The Met Office has upgraded its weather warning for Orkney and Shetland to a rare red alert.
It means dangerous conditions are expected with winds set to reach 100mph at times.
A spokesman said: "Storm-force west to south-westerly winds are expected to develop across Shetland during Friday.
Frequent gusts of 80-90mph are expected, with gusts of around 100mph likely for a time this afternoon.
"Additionally, as a result of these winds, very large waves will develop and affect western coasts, during high tide.
"Expect dangerous conditions including structural damage and debris, disruption to power supplies and widespread disruption to transport, and take action to secure loose items.''