Weather Warnings As Storm Gertrude Hits

Storm Gertrude is sweeping the country with winds of more than 90mph, leaving thousands of homes without power, buildings damaged and transport disrupted.

A rare red Met Office alert is in place for Orkney and Shetland with dangerous conditions expected throughout Friday.

Many other regions have yellow and amber warnings for strong winds, heavy rain, snow and ice as the extreme weather continues to batter the British Isles.

Gusts of 91mph have been recorded in South Uist, while Inverbervie in Aberdeenshire and Orlock Head in Northern Ireland were hit by winds of 79mph.

Speeds are expected to reach around 65mph in the Borders and the North East of England later in the day and pushing 80mph in North Yorkshire.

Forecasters said: "Winds are expected to widely gust 60-70mph, possibly up to 80mph along exposed coasts and over hills.

''Be prepared for the likelihood of difficult driving conditions and disruption to travel, such as cancellation to ferry services and bridge closures.

"Storm-force west to south-westerly winds are expected to develop across Shetland during Friday. Frequent gusts of 80-90mph are expected, with gusts of around 100mph likely for a time this afternoon.

"Expect dangerous conditions including structural damage and debris, disruption to power supplies and widespread disruption to transport, and take action to secure loose items.''

More than 10,000 homes have been left without power in Scotland and Northern Ireland with Scottish Hydro saying repairs in Aberdeenshire, Perthshire and the Western Isles are dependant on the weather.

Fallen trees are affecting many routes across Scotland with the Forth, Tay and Kessock bridges closed for a time. A number of lorries and large vehicles have toppled over in the winds, with one incident on the M9 near Dunblane.

A landslip on the A82 at Letter Finlay caused a 150-mile diversion for journeys between Fort William and Inverness before it was cleared.

Drivers also had to avoid a trampoline blown on to the Newtonhill flyover near the A90 in Aberdeen at around 6am.

Police Scotland said a member of the public moved it from the road and officers were not needed. A force spokesman advised people to peg down trampolines and garden furniture in high winds.

All schools in the Northern and Western Isles have been closed with more following on the mainland throughout the day.

Oxgangs Primary in Edinburgh was forced to close after part of the wall was blow off.

Train and ferry services are also vastly reduced.

A succession of storms since December has seen widespread flooding and major disruption to travel, with the latest front expected to continue through the weekend.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has almost 40 flood warnings in place covering Ayrshire, Tayside, west central Scotland and the Highlands.

In Glasgow city centre, officials said roads were closed due to dangerous buildings caused by high winds.

In Edinburgh, fallen trees caused road closures on city routes during the morning rush hour and Edinburgh Zoo said it would not be opening this morning due to the weather conditions.

With hazardous road conditions across the UK, RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: "Drivers will need to take extreme care and slow down, especially on more exposed stretches of road.

"On Saturday, high winds will be combined with wintry showers, making driving conditions more treacherous. Disruption on the roads is likely, so motorists should listen for and heed all local weather warnings, expect their journeys to take longer than usual and, when out on the road, take particular care overtaking other motorists.''

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