Scores of flights and ferries were cancelled across Scotland yesterday as the Storm Ophelia hit the UK, bringing widespread disruption across the transport network.
The Met Office issued an amber ‘be prepared’ warning covering Dumfries and Galloway, Lothian and Borders, and Strathclyde as the tail end of the former hurricane whipped in over Scotland.
The warning, which carried the “potential for injuries and danger to life,” was expected to last until 11pm last night, with forecasters predicting gale force gusts of around 62mph in Stranraer
The Met Office extended its yellow ‘be aware’ warning to cover Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway, and Lothian and the Borders. They had already been in place across Central, Tayside, Fife, and the Highlands.
It also said a yellow warning covering Lothian and Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Strathclyde, Central, Tayside and Fife would remain in place until 3pm today, as very strong winds continue to lash parts of the British mainland.
The Met Office said there is the potential for gusts of 70mph across the Central Belt during this morning’s rush hour, although the worst of the winds are expected to ease as the day goes on.
Some 16 flights due to depart Edinburgh Airport were cancelled, The majority were services to the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, but those cancelled included several departures to Heathrow.
A spokesman for the airport advised passengers flying to Ireland to check with their airline in advance of coming to the airport.
At Glasgow Airport, 23 flights were cancelled. While several were Aer Lingus and Ryanair services to Ireland and Northern Ireland, the disruption also affected airlines such as Easyjet, Loganair, and Eastern Airways.
Eight flights were cancelled at Aberdeen Airport, including one Flybe service to Orkney.
The approaching storm also hit ferry routes hard, with Caledonian MacBrayne sailings from Oban to Barra and Colonsay and the Uig to Tarbert route among those cancelled due to forecast high winds.
In all, the company reported that crossings on eight routes had been cancelled due to the weather, with reduced services and disruption on its other sailings.
Stena Line cancelled several of its crossings from Cairnryan to Belfast due to the weather, while Northlink Ferries warned of delays to its sailings to and from Shetland and Orkney.
On the roads, the Erskine Bridge was closed to high sided vehicles at 5:30pm. Earlier, commuters on the M77 faced extensive delays and closures during rush hour after a lorry overturned while travelling southbound near junction two at Barrhead Road.
Loose bricks from the lorry’s cargo spilled across the central reservation and onto the opposite carriageway following the accident, shortly after 8:15am.
Both southbound lanes were closed while emergency services recovered the lorry, while one lane northbound was closed, causing significant tailbacks. At 10am, northbound traffic stretched back nearly six miles to junction five at Eaglesham, with some motorists using the hard shoulder in an attempt to reach the city. It was not until midday that all restrictions were lifted and traffic began to move smoothly.
Sepa has four flood alerts in place covering Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute, Ayrshire and Arran and west central Scotland while there are eight local flood warnings in Dumfries and Galloway.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf said he had received warnings on severe weather expected across the south and west of Scotland at a Scottish Government Resilience meeting yesterday.
He said: “The conditions are leading to transport disruption and we are urging people to take the weather into account if they are planning to travel.”