Belfast Telegraph

Thousands without power after storm

Thousands of homes remain without power after storm force winds battered Scotland, bringing major disruption to the transport network.

At the height of the problems more than 100,000 properties across the Highlands, islands, Aberdeenshire and the central belt of Scotland lost electricity as hurricane-force winds brought gusts of more than 100mph.

A gust of 113mph was recorded at Stornoway on Lewis, the strongest gust since records at that site began in 1970, while a gust of 110mph was recorded at Loch Glascarnoch and 97mph at Atlnaharra in the Highlands.

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) said it has restored supplies to 68,000 customers and is working to restore electricity to a further 28,000 customers, with the Western Isles and rural areas the worst hit.

Some customers may have to wait until tomorrow to be reconnected.

Scottish Power said around 20,000 customers in central and southern Scotland have been reconnected after losing power, with work ongoing to reach a further 800 properties in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Lothian and Borders.

Rodney Grubb, head of operations at SHEPD, said engineers are "facing a monumental task" in getting to damaged lines.

"Trees and branches have made some rural roads impassable," he said. "We are also having to remove airborne debris tangled up in our power lines. And then there is the added problem of fading daylight, strong winds and rain.

"We will work as long as we can but working in the dark can be potentially dangerous. It is regrettable that some of our customers may be left without power overnight."

"Welfare vans" have been sent to the worst affected areas offering free hot food and drinks, while care is being organised for the most vulnerable customers, Mr Grubb added.

The Forth Road Bridge was closed to all vehicles for several hours after a van blew over just before 1am, while many roads around the country have been affected by fallen trees.

ScotRail suspended all services for safety reasons for a time this morning, while ferry services were subject to cancellations and several roads and bridges were closed along with many schools.

In Inverness, the Premier Inn hotel was evacuated at around 3am after a gable wall collapsed, while in Edinburgh part of Rose Street was closed after masonry fell from a building near the Roxburghe Hotel.

A large People Make Glasgow sign that welcomes drivers on the M8 motorway near the Kingston Bridge was badly torn by the winds.

Flood alerts and warnings remain in place for most of Scotland tonight.

Stornoway Coastguard said they were called out with the council to help an 80-year-old woman whose window had blown in.

The ferocious gales were stirred up by an extra-powerful jet stream triggered by plunging temperatures in the United States hitting warmer air in the south.

A Met Office amber warning for much of Scotland has now been lifted but yellow "be prepared "warnings remain in place across central and southern Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland with strong winds and a chance of snow over the weekend.

The strongest winds recorded in England today were at High Bradfield, in South Yorkshire, which saw a gust of 76mph at 1am.

In Wales, the strongest gust was at Aberdaron, Gwynedd, with 76mph at 11pm last night while for Northern Ireland, the strongest was 70mph at Killowen, County Down, at 10pm last night.

The Met Office said: "While the winds have now dropped significantly, it will stay windy through today in many parts and gusts will increase in strength once again tonight as another low pressure system is set to affect northern parts of the country."

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