High winds blow sandstorms across Moray coast

THE residents of Moray were today facing a new weather threat - sandstorms.

Dust storm caused by gale force winds delaying all flights at Inverness Airpor. Picture by Ed Fraser of Channel 4 News

High winds today blew across the fertile sandy soils along the Moray Firth coast, whipping up massive dust storms across the area from Inverness to Elgin. At the height of the sandstorms council workmen had to be deployed to use diggers to clear a rural road of deep sand drifts as scores of routes were affected by the dust storms which turned the sky a pale red.

A spokesman for Moray Council said: “There have been quite number of roads affected and we have had workmen out clearing them. It’s like a snow drift situation - as soon as you clear the road it fills in behind you.

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“The whole of the Laich of Moray - the low lying part of the area which has very sandy soil - has been affected and driving conditions in some areas are really quite difficult.”

He said that council workmen and diggers had to be deployed to clear a road to the hamlet of Broom of Moy, near Forres. “The road was basically closed to traffic because of the depth of the sand drifts.” he explained.

And the spokesman added: “Looking out the council office here in Elgin towards Lossiemouth you can see that the sky is just absolutely full of sand.”

The dramatic sandstorms also struck Inverness airport where a number of flights were disrupted because of high winds.

An airport spokesman said: “There have been sandstorms in the area but they have not had an impact on flights. What has had an impact on flights are the very strong winds which meant it was not safe to board aircraft for a period. But the wind conditions have now died down and flights are being processed.”

In Angus a fallen tree was blocking the A932 Forfar to Friockheim road at Pitmuies and the high winds also led to the Tay Road Bridge being completely closed to all traffic

Meanwhile SEPA has issued a flood warning for Newtonmore to Kingussie.A spokesman for the agency said: “River levels are high and are still rising as a result of hill snow melting over the past few days combined with showery rain today. Agricultural land is at risk of flooding along the Spey Valley between Newtonmore and Kingussie. Low lying properties and access routes in Kingussie may also be at risk of flooding.”