ENGINEERS were battling to restore power to tens of thousands of homes in Scotland last night as a second Atlantic storm was forecast to batter the country.
The hurricane-force winds of up to 140-mph on Thursday night and into yesterday (Fri) blacked out more than 100,000 properties, with the Western Isles and northern Scotland the worst affected.
The storm also caused major disruption to the country’s transport network.
ScotRail was forced to suspend all services for safety reasons in the morning, and was working to get services back to routine later in the day..
Ferry services were cancelled, bridges were shut and dozens of schools were closed because of the high winds.
The devastation came as forecasters warned of more severe weather to come this weekend.
A gust of 113mph was recorded at Stornoway on Lewis, the strongest speed recorded since records began in 1970, while there was a gust of 110mph at Loch Glascarnoch and 97mph at Atlnaharra in the Highlands.
The Cairngorm summit saw gales reach speeds of 140mph.
Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution said it had restored supplies to 27,500 customers by late yesterday (Fri) and was working to bring back electricity to a further 69,500 homes.
It had mobilised 1,000 technical and support staff ahead of the severe weather.
The company has also provided welfare vans across the north of Scotland to provide hot food, drinks and charge points for mobile phones.
ScottishPower said 12,000 customers were off supply at the peak of the incident and had reconnected 7,000 of them by early afternoon. There were pockets of faults mainly across the central belt, from Ayrshire to Lanarkshire and across to the Lothians.
A spokesman for SP Energy Networks said: “Our network area has experienced exceptionally high wind speeds across the night, and we are currently responding to pockets of faults across our network mainly in the central belt.”
Network Rail staff were out overnight inspecting lines for damage.
All services were suspended for safety checks for a time on Friday morning, but a majority of lines returned to normal service after being deemed safe.
The Aberdeen sleeper train was badly delayed after hitting branches and debris on the line at Cupar.
A spokesman for ScotRail said: “For safety reasons it will be necessary for Network Rail to inspect rail lines across the network for damage before allowing passengers to travel on routes.”
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.
The Skye, Dornoch and Kessock bridges were closed to high sided vehicles, while the Churchill Barriers in Orkney were closed in the morning.
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency issued 14 flood alerts and 10 flood warnings.
Police said travel conditions in the Highlands and Islands were “hazardous”, and advised against travelling along causeways or low-lying coastal roads.
A spokesman added: “Travel along causeways or low lying coastal roads is not recommended at this time.
“If you are travelling you should ensure you and your vehicle are adequately prepared for the conditions making sure you have sufficient fuel and supplies such as warm clothing, food and water in the event you are delayed for several hours.”
Ferry sailings from Oban to Castlebay and Lochboisdale were cancelled, as were services from Raasay, Sconser, Lismore, Lochaline, Barra and Iona.
The volunteer crew of Oban Lifeboat was called out at 11.40pm on Thursday after a man fell from the North Pier in Oban Bay during what they described as “one of the worst storms of the winter”.
The crew began the search for the man and he was recovered safe and well.
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A lorry was blown over in strong winds on the M74 between junction nine and ten near Kirkmuirhill, South Lanarkshire.
Stornoway Coastguard said they were called out with the council to help an 80-year-old woman whose window had blown in.
A burst water main in West Linton, Peebleshire, meant customers experienced loss of water supply, low pressure, and discoloured water, Scottish Water said.
The Dounreay nuclear complex on the far north Caithness coast was closed to all but essential staff.
Firefighters in the Highlands dealt with one wildfire caused by a sparks from a hydro pole igniting a tree.
Meanwhile, an appliance from Inverness was called to respond to an incident at the Premier Inn in the city’s Millburn Road where the weather led to the collapse of the gable end of the building.
Crews entered the premises at 3.04am and evacuated people from bedrooms.
At 6.59am the appliance at Drumnadrochit responded to a request to clear the roadway of fallen trees to allow an ambulance to gain access to the occupier complaining of severe chest pains.
Once access was gained, the crew assisted in the transport of the casualty to a nearby car park for airlift by an air ambulance.
Later at 7.43am Dunbeath’s crew responded to a request to clear the roadway to allow ambulance access to a seriously ill elderly person and at 7.49am Great Bernera cleared a shed from a roadway to allow carers access to a vulnerable elderly lady.
Deputy Assistant Chief Officer and Head of Service Delivery for the North, Andy Coueslant, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the dedication and hard work of our crews who have been working tirelessly throughout the night, as a result of the storms.”
The ferocious gales have been stirred up by an extra-powerful jet stream triggered by plunging temperatures in the United States hitting warmer air in the south.
Forecasters said the 250mph jet stream would bring two more “vigorous depressions” to the UK over the coming days.
Laura Young, a meteorologist for the Met Office, said: “The severe gales subsided during he day, but are expected to cause further disruption overnight.”
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: “Many travellers who have had sleepless nights will know the winds have been severe and yes it has caused significant impact to the transport system but we’re working very hard to recover from that.
“People should travel with caution and check all information sources to ensure their route is operational, and allow extra time.”
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