FORECASTERS have warned there could be more gales on the way in the coming weeks after a day which saw the Lothians whipped by gusts which toppled trees, damaged buildings, and brought travel chaos.
The Met Office says that more low pressure areas heading from the Atlantic to Scotland means that the country may not have seen the back of the worst winds in 25 years.
Weather recording equipment yesterday registered wind on Blackford Hill of up to 77mph, while gusts of 86mph were clocked on the Forth Road Bridge.
While the city escaped the brunt of a storm that laid siege to the west, the transport network was left in chaos.
Today, forecaster Paul Michaelwaite, of Netweather, warned more was on its way.
He was reported to have said: “Although there’s some uncertainty over the exact way next week and beyond will play out, there looks to be at least a couple more pretty vicious looking systems coming through during the next seven days, and no real sign of any let-up into the following week either.”
Across the city, several roads were closed due to fallen debris and trees.
Cockburn Street was cordoned off until late yesterday afternoon after a chunk of masonry, described as enough to “fill a shoebox”, fell from the housing department office and smashed on to the pavement.
In Dalgety Street, Meadowbank, four cars were damaged when roof felt and a chimney stack were sheared from a tenement building.
Kevin McHugh, 30, who lives in the street, described how the relentless wind tore cladding from the building’s roof.
“The wind was so strong it managed to pull the felt from the roof which took down some of the chimney stack and some aerials,” he said. “At one point it was raining debris on the cars and pavement below. It managed to damage a lot of cars. I didn’t go down because it looked too dangerous but the car roofs were damaged and the sides of the cars.
“I heard the sound of the felt peeling from the roof and after a few gusts of wind the whole lot came crashing down.
“It was so bad that it shook the tenement – I could feel the vibrations of the debris hitting the ground in my top-floor flat.”
In Gifford, East Lothian, a tree smashed into a house in High Street, causing “significant damage”.
The roof of the property was said to be destroyed by the weight of the tree, though no-one was inside the house or injured in the incident.
In offices and schools throughout the Capital, people were sent home early to avoid a hectic rush hour and the expected large-scale disruption.
The police advised against all non-essential travel after 2pm, with most local authorities closing public buildings from around midday.
At Edinburgh Airport, an easyJet plane was moments from crash-landing after being buffeted by gales as it descended to the runway.
The flight – EZ425 from Bristol – almost scraped its right wing on the tarmac during its nail-biting landing and the pilot only just managed to right the aircraft.
Eyewitness Katie Harris, 34, said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’m so glad I wasn’t on that plane. The right wheel hit the ground first and just bounced.
“The flight that tried to come in right before went completely sideways as it tried to descend and had to abort its landing.”
In total, 55 flights were cancelled due to Thursday’s extreme weather and four flights had to be diverted to land at airports in the north of England.
NHS Lothian reduced staffing to the safe minimum across all facilities while all non-essential staff at Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service were also sent home at midday.
In West Lothian, several police stations were closed due to the severe weather, including Linlithgow, Whitburn, Armadale and West Calder.
Power outages also hit parts of Livingston and Linlithgow.
The nursery at Roslin Primary was due to remain closed today after its ceiling collapsed. It is not clear whether the incident was connected to heavy gales.
South Charlotte Street was closed due to a fallen pole at Charlotte Square, a tree was blown over at Regent Road and traffic for the Kincardine Bridge was reported to be tailing back as far as Newbridge during the afternoon.
Even footballers at Hibs faced storm disruption, with outdoor training at their base in Ormiston, East Lothian, cut short amid worsening weather.
Firefighters in East Lothian were bemused to find a trampoline stuck high up a tree in Haddington. The crews stood down after the
Meanwhile, giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang retreated indoors as torrential rain and blustery gales hit Edinburgh Zoo, which also closed.