1,000 Storm-Hit Homes Still Cut Off

More than 1,000 homes remain without power for a fourth day after high winds, heavy rain and snow hit Scotland's transport and power networks.

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) said 1,150 customers in the north of Scotland still have no electricity.

Engineers have been working in "treacherous'' conditions to reconnect properties in rural Inverness-shire, Caithness, Sutherland and the Western Isles.

At the height of the bad weather more than 100,000 homes were cut off and the storms contributed to a spate of accidents.

Two teenagers remain in hospital after the car they were travelling in collided with a gritter truck in South Ayrshire.

Met Office yellow "be prepared'' warnings are in place for almost the whole of the UK today with further high winds and rain forecast.

Gusts of 50mph to 70mph are forecast to be widespread, with 90mph winds in the very north and islands of Scotland.

The adverse weather has led to many NorthLink Ferries and CalMac sailings being cancelled or put under review.

High winds have closed the Skye Bridge to all traffic, while the A9 Kessock Bridge, A9 Dornoch Bridge and Forth Road Bridge are shut to high-sided vehicles.

Stagecoach North Scotland said some services would be delayed due to the weather in and around the Inverness area.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has eight flood alerts and 21 flood warnings in place.

Some homes around Inverness, Dingwall, Wick and the Western Isles have been without power since Friday.

All schools in the Western Isles are closed today to pupils, the council has said.

Scottish and Southern Energy has been working with volunteers from the Red Cross to reach vulnerable customers, providing them with hot food and drinks.

Anne Eadie, co-ordinating the Red Cross emergency response, said: "Every one of our volunteers in northern Scotland was ready to do whatever was needed to help make things easier for as many people as possible.

"Our biggest priority was to make sure that people identified as vulnerable - because of age, infirmity or some degree of disability - were able to withstand this crisis safely.

"In some areas, water supplies were also knocked out because there was no power for the pumps which deliver it to more remote areas. Scottish Water provided supplies of bottled water, which our volunteers helped deliver.

"Our response will wind down as more households are reconnected to the grid but, until supplies are back to normal, our teams will continue to provide whatever help is needed.''

The ferocious gales over the weekend were stirred up by an extra-powerful jet stream in the Atlantic triggered by plunging temperatures in the United States hitting warmer air from the south.

High winds forced the cancellation of a performance at the Sunderland Empire after a statue on its roof toppled over and was left hanging from its base, 90ft (27m) up.

In the Cairngorm mountains, three people had to be rescued after being stranded in a blizzard.

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