Scotland Battered By High Winds

Gale-force winds and heavy rain caused major disruption in Scotland today with ferry services cancelled and hundreds left without power as the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo passed over the country.

The Met Office issued a yellow "be aware'' weather warning for the whole of Scotland today, with gusts of up to 70mph forecast.

A wind speed of 63mph was recorded in Salsburgh in North Lanarkshire in the early hours, while a 62mph gust hit Machrihanish on the Mull of Kintyre at around 5am.

Ferry operator Calmac cancelled 11 routes and suspended 12 others, while other ferry companies also axed services.

A Calmac spokesman said: "The Calmac network is experiencing major weather disruptions at the moment. There are currently 11 routes cancelled for the rest of the day. A further 12 routes are also currently suspended.

"We would urge anyone thinking of travelling with us today to check with us before setting off and to think about whether their journey is absolutely necessary.''

NorthLink ferries cancelled its 4.45pm sailing from Stromness on Orkney and its 7pm sailing from Scrabster on the mainland, while P&O Ferries said all sailings on the Larne/Cairnryan service were suspended until at least 8pm due to the adverse weather.

Pentland Ferries cancelled its sailings in the Pentland Firth today.

Meanwhile hundreds of people were left without power as a result of the adverse weather.

Just under 600 Scottish Hydroelectric Power Distribution customers were left without electricity in Dunblane, Dunoon, Fort William and the Western Isles.

Most had power restored by lunchtime, though some in Dunblane and those in Fort William were expected to be reconnected during the afternoon.

A Scottish Hydroelectric Power Distribution spokesman said: "We would like to apologise for this disruption, caused by the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo.''

In Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway, around 90 ScottishPower customers were left without electricity for a time, although they were reconnected by midday.

The company is working to restore power to up to 90 customers in Girvan in South Ayrshire.

On the roads, the Skye Bridge was shut while the Erskine Bridge and Dornoch Bridge were closed to high-sided vehicles.

Gonzalo caused widespread damage and a power blackout when it hit Bermuda last week, and it is now sweeping over the UK and into Europe.

Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll has arrived in the small British territory to assist in the relief effort after the hurricane.

The strong winds are expected to remain in Scotland for almost 24 hours.

Sean Tenston, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: "Temperatures will struggle to reach double figures generally so it will remain cool, but the winds should gradually ease off into the night, but it is looking like a full 18 to 24-hour period of sustained winter weather.

"What we're seeing is the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo, which are now an extra-tropical depression, crossing the UK.''

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