Belfast Telegraph

Thousands without power after gales

Thousands of people remain without power after gale force winds brought another day of disruption to Britain's transport and power networks.

In Scotland, where winds reached up to 113mph yesterday, some homes in the very north of the country have been without electricity since Friday.

Engineers have been working in "treacherous and worsening conditions" to reconnect properties, while charity workers from the Red Cross have been working to reach vulnerable people and provide food, accommodation and generators where possible.

At the height of the problems, more than 100,000 properties were without power. Around 16,000 are still cut off and engineers said they will work through the night if it is safe to do so.

Some parts of the Highlands and Western Isles are likely to be without power overnight, Scottish and Southern Energy said.

In England, a body has been recovered and searches are to continue for another man after two people were swept out to sea in severe weather at Brighton beach.

The body of Freddie Reynolds, who was swept out to sea as he tried to rescue his friend Dan Nicholls, has been recovered. Searches for Mr Nicholls are to continue tomorrow.

A driver died in a one-car crash in Aberdeenshire where weather has been causing problems and police are investigating if it was a factor.

Two people were also taken to hospital after a car crashed with a gritter in South Ayrshire.

Weather warnings remain in place for tomorrow with further strong winds , snow and ice forecast.

The Met Office has yellow "be aware" weather alerts in place for all of Scotland, the North and Midlands of England, and Northern Ireland until midday tomorrow for snow and ice. Wind warnings are in force in places until this evening.

Efforts to recover the beached Hoegh Osaka near Southampton had to be postponed due to high winds, which have also caused severe problems on roads in Yorkshire and the North East of England as a number of lorries were blown over, blocking carriageways.

A gust of 113mph was recorded at Stornoway on Lewis yesterday, the strongest since records at that site began in 1970, while winds of 76mph were recorded at High Bradfield, in South Yorkshire, and in Aberdaron, Gwynedd.

The areas worst affected by power cuts are Buchan, Dingwall, Dunoon, Elgin, Fort William, Inverness-shire, Oban, Perth, Shetland, Skye, the Western Isles and Wick.

As well as the Red Cross, local food suppliers have been helping to reach those cut off. Scottish Hydro praised a chip shop in the Highlands for helping with food.

The power company tweeted: "Big shout out to the team in McGinty's chip shop in Fortrose who are delivering hot food to elderly vulnerable customers."

Alan Broadbent, director of engineering, said: "I would like to praise the work of our men and women out in the field who had to put up with some of the worst weather conditions I have ever encountered.

"If it is safe to do so, they will continue to work through the night.

"I would also like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding. My apologies, once again, for the disruption they had to endure since yesterday."

The bad weather has toppled power lines and uprooted trees, and yesterday forced ScotRail temporarily to suspend all train services for safety reasons.

The Sunderland Empire had to close and cancel tonight's performance after a well-known statue on its roof toppled over and was left hanging from its base, 90ft up.

Met Office forecaster Alex Burkill said: "In the north of the UK, the wintry showers should push more eastwards and we should see most of them easing on Sunday.

"The South East should hold on to the largely fine conditions but we will see showers push into Wales and south west England, some of this falling as sleet and snow over the moors but also to lower levels."

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.


From Belfast Telegraph