THE banks of the River Ness burst at the site of £34 million flood alleviation works, causing travel chaos in the centre of Inverness.
Throughout the Highlands blizzards, high winds, and storm surges resulted in major disruption throughout the region.
Thousands of homes were left without power as engineers worked around the clock to restore service to as many homes as possible before darkness fell.
Dozens of roads were also affected by fallen trees, flooding and debris.
River bursts in city
The banks of the River Ness in the centre of Inverness burst as high tide hit at lunchtime.
Ironically, the worst area hit was where a multi-million pound flood prevention project is being carried out.
A Highland Council spokesman said they were working with contractors Morgan Sindall to increase sandbagging on both sides of the river on Huntly Street and Bank Street.
Council staff are also keeping a watching brief on the Caol area of Fort William for possible flood risk to that area.
A total of 56 schools, seven service points and council offices were closed due to lack of power, bad weather or loss of water in the Highland region.
All schools in South Uist and Barra in the Western Isles were also shut.
Due to roof damage, Inverness High School was closed and will remain closed on Friday.
Panels became detached from Rose Street car park and were overhanging onto the main street, on the north side of the building.
Rose Street was cordoned off for safety and the council was trying to arrange contractors to assess and secure the damaged panels.
‘Problems since 5am’
Richard Evans, The Highland Council’s Acting Head of Road and Community Works, said: “Since 5am this morning we have been responding to calls outs regarding fallen trees and debris across roads and our staff have been working to clear roads and keep traffic moving.
“In Wester Ross a polythene roof was blown off one of our salt stores, and our Ullapool depot received damage to its roof and doors. Oykel Bridge in Sutherland was closed due to flooding.
“We have staff out clearing fallen trees and debris on the B852 Dores – Foyers, A862 Inverness – Beauly, B970 Aviemore – Kingussie, U1313 Bellsgrove-Polloch (Kinlochan) Lochaber ; and many side roads have also been affected by debris.”
Meanwhile, fire crews across the north attended over 60 incidents in just eight hours since 5.30am.
A fire brigade spokesman said: “The number of incidents crews are being asked to respond to is now beginning to subside as weather conditions improve.
“There were a number of road traffic collisions, one at the junction of Firthview Road/King Brude Road. Two appliances and emergency tender from Inverness responded to that incident.
“Appliances were also called to monitor flooding in Huntly Street and the Black Bridge area of Inverness.” Water levels have now subsided and there was no need to use pumping equipment.
Meanwhile, three appliances attended a road traffic collision in Boat of Garten at 12.41pm where a woman had to be cut free from her vehicle following a two vehicle collision.
And in Sconser, Isle of Skye on the A87 crews were called out after a panel van overturned at 6.38am. Appliances from Broadford, Portree and the heavy rescue vehicle from Inverness attended.
Ferries, roads affected
Gusts of 80-90 miles per hour hit the north and western areas, with an unofficial wind speed of 116 mph being recorded north of Lewis.
Ferry operators CalMac, Serco Northlink and Pentland Ferries had to cancel or delay a massive number of sailings to and from the Western Islands, Orkney and Shetland.
The companies warned passengers to continue checking online and phoning ahead before making their way to ports.
Both Dornoch and Skye bridges were closed for a lengthy period to all vehicles, but this was reduced to just high-sided vehicles later in the day.
Kessock Bridge in Inverness was also closed to high sided vehicles.
A roof being blown off a house in Grant Street, Inverness, along with fallen trees and debris, caused the road to be shut.
The A887 four miles south of Invermorriston and the Tongue Causeway were also closed due to fallen trees and debris.
In addition, the A87 close to the Bunloyne junction, A887 at Torgoyle and the B9006 at Loch Flemington were closed due to fallen trees and debris.
The A830 Mallaig road, A87 at the Kyleachin Straights and A861 approximately half a mile south of Acharacle, also had closures, but later reopened.
The A82 at Torlundy, A830 Mallaig road and A86 Newtonmore to Laggan road were also closed due to fallen trees and debris.
In addition, A836 Bonar to Lairg road, approximately four miles towards Bonar Bridge, A887 four miles south of Invermorriston, A939 north of Grantown, A828 at Ballachulish and A87 at the Inverinate Causeway and at the Kyleachin Straights are all closed due to fallen trees and debris.
The A861 approximately half a mile south of Acharacle, towards Salen, was also affected.
The A939 north of Grantown which was closed by debris on the road, but was later cleared.
There was also a report of a fallen tree on a blind corner on the A95 between Mains of Dalvey and Cromdale.