Travel 'severely affected' as hurricane force winds set to batter Scotland tomorrow
Pupils go back to their desks and many businesses are due to return to work this morning after more than two weeks of holidays over the festive season.
But the Met Office say travel plans could be severely affected until Thursday due to winds - gusting to 75mph - reaching their peak tomorrow.
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The phenomenon of low-flying Christmas trees can also be expected, as thousands of households put out their old firs for collection today. These could present a hazard if they are blown onto the roads.
The far west and north of Scotland are in the eye of this particular storm, which splits to avoid the spine of the country. It then whips up again to take in coastal parts of the Borders and Lothians, including Edinburgh.
As the source of the winds lies in mid-Atlantic, an unseasonably warm 15C ( 59F) will be experienced at the height of the storm.
“It’s going to be a windy day throughout the UK on Monday,” said Met Office forecaster, Mark Wilson.
“We can expect gales and even severe gales across many parts of Scotland. Things quieten down for a bit, once the rain clears through.
“But it is Tuesday when winds look as if they will be at their strongest. We are expecting gusts of 75mph around the coasts and over high ground.
“This carries with it the potential for travel disruption. We anticipate delays to transport, and things like high-sided vehicles being banned from the country’s bridges and exposed routes.”
Forecast wind speeds will officially become hurricane force if they exceed 74mph, the definition on the Beaufort Scale.
Gusts will be sufficiently strong to affect rail lines near coasts, where large waves could overtop sea defences and spray onto overhead electric cables.
Air travel, too, could be disrupted if pilots deem it unsafe to take-off or land.
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This morning will see a test of changes made to security screening at Glasgow Airport. Last Friday, passengers claimed to have faced queues of over an hour as only a couple of security channels were open.
The union, Unite, said the service has been “under-manned and under-resourced” since its members joined a private security company just before Christmas.
Yesterday, as winds picked up, Cal Mac cancelled a slew of sailings on the west coast, including all services between Ardrossan and Brodick on Arran, Barra to Eriskay, Oban to Castlebay, Mallaig to the Small Isles as well as Mallaig to Oban and Lochboisdale.
The ferry firm say this morning’s sailings between Ardrossan and Brodick are also called off, with a review being conducted at 11am.
Passengers due to travel on other routes have been told that disruption could continue into Wednesday.
Northlink Ferries, which provides services from the mainland to the Northern Isles issued an ‘early disruption warning’ to customers yesterday.
It said:”Present weather forecasts indicate the possibility of disruptions to our services from Tuesday 7th through to Thursday 9th of January 2020.
“More detailed updates will follow as forecasts are updated.”
On the roads, high winds affected rivers crossing the A87 Skye Bridge and the Kessock and Dornoch Bridges on the A9.
Drivers had to swerve from the fast lane of the M74 at Bothwell in Lanarkshire after a roof box was blown off a car onto the carriageway.
The Met Office downgraded a warning issued on Saturday, which had anticipated even higher wind speeds of 80mph. Just 5mph has been shaved off what’s expected and areas of Tayside and Grampian have been removed from the warning area entirely.
Mark Wilson of the Met Office said:”We are talking about three windy days across Scotland.
“On Wednesday, there is also the possibility we could see some snow on higher ground, but nothing to lower levels.”