Travel chaos as Storm Henry brings 90mph winds and rain

MANY Scots will be waking up with trepidation today as they prepare to assess the full scale of havoc unleashed by Storm Henry overnight.

Gusts of 70-80mph are expected widely. Picture: John Devlin

There has been little respite for householders and businesses north of the Border, with a spate of winter storms blasting the country in rapid succession and causing widespread devastation.

The whole of Scotland was last night on amber alert to “be prepared” for strong winds, with gusts predicted to reach 90mph in exposed areas.

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Further flooding was also expected, with more than 40 warnings in place.

Henry, the eighth named storm of the season, came just days after Storm Gertrude brought winds peaking at 144mph as well as heavy rain and snow. The latest bout of extreme weather caused travel chaos, with nearly all ferry and many train services cancelled.

Roads were also affected, with some key routes and bridges closed or restricted to cars only.

Gusts of 84mph forced the closure of the Forth Road Bridge, while traffic on the the Cromarty Bridge was confined to cars-only after a lorry was blown over on the crossing.

The decision was taken to close a number of schools and suspend some rail services as the winds gathered strength.

All schools in the Western Isles and at least 14 primaries and three secondaries across the Highlands were shut yesterday, while the roof of a secondary school in Glasgow was damaged by the wind.

Yellow warnings for rain were in place for northern and central areas, with renewed flooding expected in the Highlands, Tayside, Renfrew and Dumbarton.

A spokesman for the Met Office said a deep area of low pressure had pushed quickly eastwards close to the north of Scotland late yesterday. Forecasters had warned of difficult driving conditions, some structural damage, dangerous coastal conditions and disruption to power supplies.

Train operator ScotRail cancelled some services in the afternoon to take account of the severe conditions.

Routes in the west Highlands, including the Inverness-to-Kyle line, were affected, as well as services from Dumbarton and Largs.

Jacqueline Taggart, of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “Once again we find ourselves preparing for extreme weather conditions hitting the country.

“Last week Storm Gertrude brought incredibly high winds and treacherous conditions to Scotland – and it looks as though Storm Henry is going to do the same.”

She added: “We have carefully tracked the progress of Storm Henry. Following the review, and to keep as many people moving as possible, some services were postponed.”

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Waves of 14m or more were expected to hit some coasts.

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne said 25 of its 26 routes had been affected by the gales. “Storm Henry is set to present significant operational challenges,” said operations general manager Ross Moran.

“We would ask passengers to consider whether their journey is absolutely necessary and to regularly check for route disruptions.”

Northlink Ferries cancelled sailings between Aberdeen and Shetland last night.

Scotland’s transport minister Derek Mackay said a multi-agency response team would continue to monitor events and respond as required.

He said: “Our fleet of patrol vehicles and gritters are treating roads where needed around the clock to help keep roads open to traffic, but quickly changing conditions means journeys could be ­disrupted.”

Scottish Hydro has been working on “red alert”, with engineers on standby in the Western Isles, north-west Highlands, Skye and Argyll.

Lesser yellow “be aware” warning were in place for Northern Ireland, Wales and northern England.