Hurricane-force winds batter UK
Published 08/12/2011 | 04:52
Hurricane-force winds have battered parts of Britain, closing schools, cutting off power to tens of thousands of homes, and forcing rescue missions, but some respite is expected on Friday.
Scotland and northern England were the worst-affected areas with a top wind speed of 165mph recorded on the summit of the Cairngorms in Aberdeenshire, the Met Office said.
Thousands of schools across all but six of Scotland's 32 local authorities were shut by lunchtime to allow pupils to get home safely, while police urged motorists to avoid the roads altogether.
Two people were rescued by the RAF from a partially-submerged car near Aysgarth, North Yorkshire, and airlifted to hospital after being trapped in rising water from a swollen river. They were airlifted to hospital with suspected hypothermia, emergency services said.
Cumbria saw heavy rain, and police said they received several calls from motorists stuck in floodwater in Ambleside, Windermere, Troutbeck and Selside. The Environment Agency issued seven flood alerts at different locations on 12 rivers and lakes in the county.
The Scottish Government said more than 60,000 homes were without power. ScottishPower said on Thursday night that it had reconnected more than 18,000 customers who had lost power because of over 100 individual faults.
Scottish Hydro said it had more than 50,000 customers without power and it expected the number to increase overnight before things got better.
A wind turbine at Ardrossan Wind Farm, near the A78 in North Ayrshire, was destroyed after it fire. Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service said they had a high number of calls as the 328ft (100m) tall turbine could be seen "far and wide".
Strong winds forced the closure of every major bridge in Scotland: the Forth Road Bridge between Edinburgh and Fife; the Erskine Bridge, which connects Renfrewshire and Dunbartonshire; the Skye Bridge; and Tay Road Bridge.
Glasgow was one of the worst-hit areas, with 71mph winds recorded at lunchtime. The University of Glasgow and Caledonian University were closed, as were all public museums, galleries, sports centres and libraries.