Storm Caroline disrupts travel and closes schools

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NEODAAS/University of Dundee

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An image of Storm Caroline captured by the University of Dundee Satellite Receiving Station

Rail and ferry travel has been disrupted and dozens of schools have been shut in Scotland due to Storm Caroline’s strong winds.

The Met Office has amber “be prepared” and yellow “be aware” warnings in place for Thursday’s storm for Scotland.

Yellow warnings have been issued for snow, ice and wind on Friday and Saturday for large parts of the UK.

Scotland’s transport minister, Humza Yousaf, said the country faced “challenging conditions”.

Warnings were issued earlier this week of winds reaching 90mph over parts of Scotland during the storm.

Mountaineering Scotland has reported gusts reaching 116mph on the summit of Cairn Gorm mountain in the Cairngorms. Winds gusting to 91mph have also been recorded at Dounreay in Caithness.

The Met Office has updated its yellow warning for snow and ice on Thursday to include southern Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Karen Munro

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Waves crashing against Thurso’s breakwater

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Karen Munro

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Scrabster Harbour in Caithness where winds have been gusting to 91mph

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Karen Munro

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The ferry, Hamnavoe, leaving Scrabster in Caithness for Orkney on Thursday morning

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A railway track at Patterton was blocked by a trampoline

All schools on Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in the Western Isles have been closed to pupils as a precaution.

Electricity company SSE Networks said it had restored power to more than 3,900 properties, mainly in the Western Isles and north Highlands. About 780 households across Scotland are without power, the company added.

In the Highland Council area, more than 50 schools, which include nurseries, primary and secondary schools, have been closed because of the weather.

All schools in Orkney were closed from 11:30. In Shetland all schools were closed from lunchtime and will remain shut on Friday.

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Sandbags in Macduff on the Aberdeenshire coast following warnings of high tides, strong winds and large waves

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Work to clear up debris from a wind-damaged tree in Inverness

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Weather Watching Wendy/@BBCWthrWatchers

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A wet and windy scene on Shetland where all schools closed from lunchtime

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has 10 flood alerts and 11 flood warnings in place for areas including Ayrshire, Lochaber, Caithness and Sutherland.

Moray Council has warned that high winds and spring tides would lead to large waves at low-lying areas of coastline.

The council said Garmouth and Kingston were expected to be cut off for a short period on Thursday afternoon. It has also warned of blizzard conditions that are expected to follow in the wake of the storm.

ScotRail Alliance said that because of the Met Office forecast for winds gusting to up to 90mph in some areas, it had suspended the following services:

  • Aberdeen to Inverness
  • Inverness to Wick
  • Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
  • Glasgow Queen Street to Oban/Fort William/Mallaig

Speed restrictions will also be in place for services between Perth and Aberdeen and Perth and Inverness as winds of up to 60 mph are expected in areas those routes pass through.

ScotRail Alliance said this would mean trains would be slower and services would be disrupted.

Rail services between Glasgow Central and Neilston were disrupted for almost two hours after a trampoline blew onto the track at Patterton in East Renfrewshire.

Due to the severe weather the bus company Stagecoach said it has had to suspended its services in the north of Scotland.

‘Challenging conditions’

Ferry operators Caledonian MacBrayne and Serco Northlink have warned of cancellations and disruption to routes on Scotland’s west and north coasts.

Ferry sailings to and from Shetland were cancelled on Thursday night.

Serco Northlink is also advising customers that both of Friday’s passenger sailings from Lerwick and Aberdeen are under review with a high probability of cancellations.

The crew of the ferry Hamnavoe that left Scrabster in Caithness earlier on Thursday, had to seek shelter in Scapa Flow in Orkney having been unable to berth in Stromness.

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Ron Macdonald

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A seal in wind-blown sand at Newburgh beach in Aberdeenshire

Due to concerns about large waves during the storm, all personnel have been taken off the North Sea platform Ninian Southern off Shetland and production shut down.

CairnGorm Mountain snowsports centre near Aviemore said it would be closed on Thursday because of the expected high winds.

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Blustery conditions at Invergordon in an image taken by BBC Weather Watcher Winkers

The Scottish government held a resilience meeting on Wednesday to discuss the impact of the storm.

Mr Yousaf said: “We are facing some challenging weather conditions in the next few days as a result of Storm Caroline and we will be working closely with our partners to try to mitigate the worst of these and get information out to the public so that they can plan their journeys.

“Disruption is very likely but we will make every effort to recover the network as quickly as possible when incidents do occur.”

He said strong winds were likely to result in restrictions and closures on road bridges on Thursday morning.

Gritter tracker

Mr Yousaf added: “Moving forward, snow and ice will become more of a feature of the storm and our gritters and patrols will be out across the network.

“There is plenty of salt available and new vehicles are being trialled to improve our response. Our gritter tracker is back online so that people can see where our gritters have been out in their area.”

It has emerged that, as the storm approached Scotland, bad weather caused a gangway connected to a North Sea oil platform to separate from an accommodation vessel.

The gangway between the Safe Boreas and the Mariner platform east of Shetland automatically disconnected due to worsening weather conditions.

Statoil said no-one was injured, but it did leave 36 workers, who were on the neighbouring Noble Lloyd Noble rig unable to get back to the accommodation vessel. They made the short journey on Thursday morning by helicopter.

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Storm Caroline disrupts travel and closes schools

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