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25 December 2016, 08:22
Scotland is bracing itself for more disruption to travel and power supplies after Storm Barbara battered northern parts of the country.
Preparations are already under way for Storm Conor with winds forecast to pick up again on Christmas Day after a lull and bring gusts of up to 90mph in some areas on Boxing Day.
An amber "be prepared'' warning for strong winds has been put in place for December 26 as the storm passes across the far north of Scotland and the Northern Isles.
The Met Office warned of the potential for bridge closures, ferry delays, downed power supplies and large waves affecting coastal areas.
It follows a second day of disruption as a result of Storm Barbara with severe weather warnings remaining in place for Christmas Eve.
At its height the storm saw gusts of 83mph recorded at Sella Ness, Shetland, 79mph at Islay, Argyll, 76mph at Fair Isle, Shetland and 75mph at Mona, Anglesey.
The strongest gust across exposed mountain sites was 117mph over Cairngorm in the Highlands.
Power had to be restored to more than 21,000 homes as the the north west of Scotland and the Western Isles bore the brunt of high winds and lightning strikes.
On Saturday ferry services were disrupted and restrictions put in place on many bridges but train services were largely unaffected despite earlier warnings of high winds and wintry showers for Scotland's central belt and northwards.
Flood alerts are in place parts of Tayside, Caithness and Sutherland, Orkney, Borders, Shetland, Skye and Lochaber and the Western Isles as well as flood warnings in Tayside.
Scotland's Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government's resilience committee in preparation for the impacts of Storm Conor.
He said: "As we see the tail end of Storm Barbara, we are now looking towards Boxing Day and the potential impacts of Storm Conor.
"There has been some disruption to power in areas worst affected by the storm but energy companies have been working hard to restore supplies quickly and have been preparing with extra staff, equipment and welfare facilities in place.
"The Scottish Government's resilience team has been meeting throughout the past week to monitor the impact of the severe weather and will remain operational through Christmas Day, into Boxing Day, to make sure that the most reliable and relevant information is being communicated to people as early as possible.
"The worst of Storm Conor is once again expected to affect the north of Scotland, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, bringing heavy rain and winds of up to 90mph.
"I can assure the travelling public that our transport operators and trunk road operating companies are working hard to keep services and roads running. However, safety is always our top priority, so we are seeing likely to see disruption to ferries and possibly flights to the islands. It is important to remember that operators do not cancel services lightly.''
Dean Hall, a Met Office forecaster, said: "Through the day the next weather system is coming in which is the start of Storm Conor, that's going to bring more persistent rain in Northern Ireland, Western Scotland and North West England.
"That will herald the arrival of Storm Conor through Christmas Day but the main impact will not be realised until Boxing Day.
People can call 105, a free new national phone line, if the weather damages their local power network and affects electricity supply.
The number is available to people in England, Scotland and Wales, regardless of who they buy electricity from.
Power companies are now turning their attention to Storm Conor after reconnecting more than 25,000 homes to the electricity grid in the north of Scotland.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said high winds and lightning strikes across the north west of Scotland, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles cut power to thousands of homes on Friday on Saturday but all customers have now been restored in time for Christmas.
Similar conditions are expected to return on Monday and engineers are standing by.
Dale Cargill, director of customer operations at SSEN, said: "Our network has stood up well to the conditions but we won't be complacent and remain prepared to respond quickly to disruption to supplies, where it is safe to do so.
"I'd like to thank customers for their patience as our teams work to restore power in these challenging conditions.
"The safety of our customers and engineers will remain a priority as we now look to prepare for the high winds and risk of lightning that Storm Conor is expected to bring.
"We are acutely aware of the time of year and the increasing concern this brings and would like to reassure our customers we will be doing all we can to keep disruption to a minimum.''