Power firm on alert amid fears Storm Barra could bring further disruption to Scotland

One of Scotland’s main electricity distribution firms is planning to shift resources to areas set to suffer the “worst” impact from Storm Barra, with increased staff on hand to deal with any damage to the power network.

Only days after reconnecting the last of its customers in Scotland following the widespread disruption caused by Storm Arwen, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said it was “actively tracking” the second storm of the season as the weather front moves in from the Atlantic.

Three separate yellow weather warnings covering Scotland have been issued by the Met Office, amid forecasts of gusts reaching up to 70mph in coastal areas and heavy snowfall across swathes of the nation.

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The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has also issued a coastal flooding alert spanning Dumfries and Galloway for Tuesday and Wednesday, warning of large waves and a storm-related surge in water levels.

Stena Line has said some of its crossings between Cairnryan and Belfast are “in doubt” due to Storm Barra, with the firm advising its customers to rebook. Caledonian MacBrayne has advised several of its crossings on Tuesday were liable to disruption or cancellation at short notice.

SSEN said its operational status in the north of Scotland had been downgraded from red to yellow alert, given it had restored all the faults caused by Storm Arwen. However, the company stressed that it would remain vigilant as the new deep area of low pressure moves in.

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In a statement, it said: “Although forecasts at this stage suggest that Storm Barra is unlikely to match the intensity of Storm Arwen, we are actively monitoring this on a regular basis and are ready to move the necessary resources and equipment to the locations we believe will see the worst of the weather.

Undated handout photo issued by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks of its teams working to reconnect the remaining homes still off supply after damage caused by Storm Arwen. Issue date: Tuesday November 30, 2021.

“In addition, we continue to have an enhanced workforce in the north east of Scotland ready to act should network faults occur.”

A Met Office yellow weather warning for heavy snow is in place from 11am to midnight tomorrow across large parts of the country.

The warning, which covers much of the Central Belt, the southern Highlands, and the south west of Scotland, states the snowfall is likely to bring travel disruption, especially over higher routes, with delays on roads, possible delays or cancellations to rail and air travel, and a small chance of power cuts.

Two separate yellow weather warnings for high winds, in place from 9am until midnight, span coastal areas of Dumfries and Galloway, as well as the east coast from Aberdeenshire down to the Scottish Borders. It too advises the severe conditions could lead to some short term loss of power.

The strongest winds are expected to ease across inland areas into the overnight period, the Met Office said, with around two to five centimetres of snow expected to accumulate fairly widely across the area in Scotland covered by the yellow snow warning. Between 5-10cm of snow could fall in higher areas.

Meteorologist Simon Partridge warned gale force winds of 45 to 50mph would be felt during Tuesday and into Wednesday, with gusts reaching 60 to 70mph in coastal areas.

The Scottish Government said Transport Scotland, utility companies, and local resilience partners had contingency plans in place in preparation for any disruption.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who chaired a ministerial meeting of the government’s resilience room on Monday, said: “In preparation for Storm Barra, I met resilience partners to oversee efforts and ensure every possible resource is deployed and continues to stand by to coordinate support.

“The Scottish Government is in close contact with local authorities and the emergency services to ensure people in the affected areas receive the latest information and support where needed. I would urge everyone in the affected areas to exercise caution and follow the latest travel advice.

“I want to assure the public that we have strong and robust arrangements in place to manage and address weather-related resilience issues at a national, regional and local level. In the aftermath of Storm Arwen, we will review the preparations and response to ensure we learn from this most exceptional storm.”

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