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Scotland’s weather: One dead amid transport chaos

The scene of the accident in West Lothian in which a lorry driver died. Picture: Joey Kelly

The scene of the accident in West Lothian in which a lorry driver died. Picture: Joey Kelly

  • by ALASTAIR DALTON
 

A MASSIVE storm with winds of up to 142mph tore across Scotland yesterday, causing travel chaos and leaving 130,000 homes without power.

River Ness bursts its banks

Wind diverts Glasgow flight to Manchester

• HGV driver dies in West Lothian, four other people injured after lorry overturns near Bathgate

• Glasgow Central Station was evacuated after debris fell on to the glass roof

• School closures across Scotland, details below

• Road closures across Scotland. Traffic Scotland updates here twitter.com/trafficscotland

• Send us your pictures @TheScotsman and online@scotsman.com

A lorry driver died after his truck overturned in high winds in West Lothian, while all major road bridges were shut and many main routes blocked.

The entire Scottish rail network was closed for the first time in eight years due to trees and debris covering the tracks.

A second man was killed at Retford in Nottinghamshire when a tree fell on his mobility scooter, and the storm threatened widespread flooding along the east coast last night, in the biggest tidal surge for 60 years.

Meteorologists described it as a “weather bomb” that did not exist until Wednesday morning, when it rapidly developed over Greenland before barrelling south towards Scotland.

Some 195 schools were closed, with 19 flood warnings in force, including in Fife, Perthshire and East Lothian.

Network Rail halted all trains across Scotland at 9am after widespread reports of debris on tracks. The first service on the main Glasgow to Edinburgh line hit a trampoline at Bishopbriggs, while another train was damaged when it hit a tree at Thornhill, Dumfriesshire. Other obstructions included hay bales on the line near Stonehaven.

Glasgow’s Central Station closed just after 8am after two panes in its glass roof were broken. One fell on to the concourse.

Network Rail said ScotRail’s Twitter feed stopped working because of the volume of queries from passengers.

Services gradually resumed on some lines from 1:30pm after engineers used a helicopter and empty trains to check routes.

Trains on the cross-Border east and west coast main lines were halted by overhead power-line damage at Alnmouth in Northumberland and Grayrigg in Cumbria respectively.

Air and ferry passengers suffered major disruption. Only four of CalMac’s 25 west coast routes escaped problems, while Scotland’s airports saw about 130 flights cancelled.

An EasyJet flight from Gatwick to Glasgow, with 118 people on board, was diverted to Manchester after abortive attempts to land at both Glasgow and Edinburgh. Passenger Hazel Bedford said: “Suddenly everything started shaking and bumping. We were going up and down, up and down, like a rollercoaster.”

About the second attempted landing, she said: “An awful lot of people were being sick but the plane, it was incredibly quiet. I was absolutely terrified.”

The storm claimed its first casualty at about 8:10am when the lorry driver died on the A801 near Bathgate. His HGV overturned, trapping two cars and injuring four other people.

In Edinburgh, a 61-year-old man was injured when he was struck by a falling tree in the Meadows, while a woman was taken to hospital after the taxi she was in was hit by a tree in Hamilton.

Flooding in Aberdeen stranded workers in offices after the River Dee burst its banks. In Moray, firefighters rescued a woman and child trapped in a car by floodwater in Garmouth.

In the south-west, up to 60 trees and an electricity pylon fell on the A713 between Castle Douglas and Ayr.

The storm claimed a 270-year-old ash tree that stood in the grounds of Gordon Castle, near Fochabers, Moray, and was listed by the Forestry Commission for Scotland as one of the ten most significant trees in the country.

Several lorries were blown over, including on the M74 in Lanarkshire, the A83 near Rest and Be Thankful in Argyll and on the M90 Friarton Bridge in Perth.

At the height of the storm, about 130,000 homes were without power, the majority on the west coast and in the Highlands.

Scottish Hydro Electric said more than 80,000 homes across the north of Scotland had suffered power cuts, with the worst affected areas the Highlands, Tayside and Argyll. Last night, power had been restored to about 33,000 of them. A further 50,000 were cut off in central and southern Scotland, ScottishPower said. Electricity was later restored to about 28,000 of them.

A top wind speed of 142mph was recorded on Aonach Mor, near Fort William. In the Central Belt, winds of 90mph were recorded near Lanark, of 82mph on Blackford Hill in Edinburgh and of 77mph at Glasgow airport. The record is a gust of 173mph on Cairn Gorm in 1986.

Forecasters said milder weather would return today, but as a warm front from the west met colder weather over Scotland, it could lead to a little snow, which would soon turn to rain.

 

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