Scotland’s weather: high winds cause widespread disruption

Cairngorm National park.  Picture Ian Rutherford
Cairngorm National park. Picture Ian Rutherford
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STORMY conditions and snow disrupted travel today across Scotland with hurricane-force winds of over 100mph in places battering the country.

More than 20 sailings to islands including Lewis, Orkney and Shetland were cancelled or delayed and restrictions were brought in on key roads and bridges including the Erskine which was closed to buses and HGVs due to strong winds.

Gusts of 120mph were recorded on the Cairngorm summit where “atrocious” conditions on the mountains forced the ski centre to close.

Hundreds of homes in the Western Isles were hit by power cuts and several schools were closed, including Castlebay primary and secondary on Barra.

The Met Office warned that exposed areas on the west coast were also likely to see unusually high sea and swell conditions.

Forecasters issued yellow weather warnings across the country, which were upgraded to amber for the Highlands and Islands and Strathclyde where up to 20cm of snow bringing blizzard conditions was expected today.

Further bad weather is predicted to hit Scotland on Tuesday with widespread yellow warnings for snow and ice and more severe amber alerts for snow in Strathclyde, Highlands and Islands and Central, Tayside, Fife, Southwest Scotland, Lothian and the Borders.

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne reported disruption to 23 sailings on Monday, with cancellations on services to Barra and South Uist, Colonsay, Harris, Lewis, North Uist, Skye and the Small Isles.

NorthLink said services to Orkney and Shetland were also affected by delays due to stormy seas.

Passengers were urged to check whether or not sailings were going ahead before setting off.

Six schools in the Western Isles were shut and about 200 properties in Lewis and Harris lost power.

At Cairngorm Mountain ski resort spokesman Colin Kirkwood said today (mon) that staff had “tied everything down”, adding: “On the bright side it should help increase our good snowcover and set us up well for the half term holidays.”

The ongoing gales have brought other benefits too, with ScottishPower reporting record electricity production at its 28 windfarms, with more than 135 gigawatt hours produced between January 25 and 31 - enough to power 1.6 million homes in an average week.