STORM Gertrude is to cause major disruption today as winds of up to 90mph close schools, railway lines and threaten to shut the Forth Road Bridge.
The Met Office has warned that what threatens to be Scotland’s worst storm so far this winter will bring “dangerous conditions”, with damage to buildings and power cuts expected. All schools in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles will be closed.
Amber – “be prepared” – severe weather warnings have been issued for much of Scotland between 3am and 5pm.
Railway lines across the north and west will be closed until late afternoon.
They are Inverness to Perth, Kyle of Lochalsh and Thurso/Wick, Glasgow to Oban and Mallaig, Dumbarton Central to Helensburgh, Kilmarnock/Ayr to Stranraer, and Kilwinning to Ardrossan and Largs.
Trains on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow route will be cut to half-hourly and on the Edinburgh and Glasgow to Dunblane lines to hourly.
Hundreds of engineers will be on standby to remove fallen trees and other debris from lines and fix damaged power lines and signals.
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “The safety of our passengers and workforce is our top priority and we cannot run services on these lines until our engineers have thoroughly inspected the network for any damage.”
Forth Road Bridge officials warned that all but cars were likely to be banned from the crossing early today, and the bridge could shut to all traffic around 8am.
The worst conditions are expected in Orkney and Shetland, where the alert will be in force from 7am to 5pm.
A Met Office spokesman said: “Be prepared for structural damage and debris, disruption to power supplies and widespread disruption to transport. Very large waves will affect western coasts.”
The amber warning will also be in force for the Central Belt, southern Scotland and the east and west coasts and Hebrides from 3-10am.
The spokesman said: “Winds are expected to widely gust 60-70mph, possibly up to 80 mph along exposed coasts and over hills. Be prepared for difficult driving conditions and disruption to travel, such as cancellation to ferry services and bridge closures.
“Some structural damage is also possible, as well as disruption to power supplies.
Gertrude, the seventh storm of the winter, is said to mean “strength” and “spear”.