STORM Gertrude has battered the Capital this morning, causing widespread travel chaos and causing a wall to collapse at Oxgangs Primary School.
The Forth Road Bridge was closed to all traffic earlier this morning, after recording wind gusts of up to 91mph. It has since reopened to all traffic except ‘wind-susceptible’ vehicles.
Schoolchildren turned up to Oxgangs Primary in Edinburgh this morning to find hundreds of bricks in a colossal pile.
The outer cladding on one side of the large building appeared to have been ripped off by gale-force winds, which reached top speeds of 70mph in the Capital.
A council spokesman said: “Oxgangs Primary School is closed today due to storm damage. Investigations are being carried to establish the cause and parents will be kept updated on when school will reopen.”
It was also reported that Liberton High School was closed due to problems with the water supply to the school.
Oxgangs Primary was rebuilt about a decade ago following a devastating fire. The latest figures state that 463 pupils attend the school, which caters for children from three to 11 years old.
It is not believed anyone was injured during the collapse.
Firefighters in Edinburgh secured a roof in the city’s Northfield Farm Avenue - after half of it was blown off in the heavy gusts.
Edinburgh Zoo said it would not be opening this morning due to the weather conditions.
With recorded wind speeds of 60mph at the John Hope Gateway on the west side of the Botanic Garden - and because the wind speed was forecast to remain high - the decision was taken to close the visitor attraction yesterday [Friday].
Gusts also caused some damage to the Glasshouses, particularly along the south-facing aspect of the modern range where panes were lost over the course of the morning. A beech tree has also been uprooted on the Upper Beech Lawn.
A spokeswoman from the Garden said they would “continue to assess the situation” before re-opening to the public.
Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to make an unexpected visit to Edinburgh, as gale-force winds cancelled his Aberdeen flight.
The prime minister had been due to fly out of Aberdeen for crunch EU talks after unveiling incentives for the oil and gas industry in the north-east the previous day.
However the weather forced him head to Edinburgh to catch another flight instead.
During a radio interview, the PM said: “My first challenge is to get to Brussels because with Hurricane Gertrude I have already had a flight problem.
“So I am racing across Scotland at the moment to get to Edinburgh airport. But I hope I will make it.”
Warnings and disruptions
The Met Office has issued a red severe weather warning issued for 100mph+ winds across Shetland today.
Amber warnings for wind and snow are in place for Edinburgh and the Lothians.
Gusts of 144mph were recorded at the peak of Cairngorm and 91mph on South Uist this morning.
Fallen trees in Edinburgh caused road closures during the morning rush hour. Among the roads affected were Liberton Brae, Corstorphine Road and Bonaly Road, with congestion reported on some diversion routes.
West Granton Road was closed from Pennywell Road to Granton Road following reports of falling masonry.
Tantallon Castle and Dirleton Castle in East Lothian have both been closed to the public as a precaution against strong winds, Historic Environment Scotland confirmed.
No damage had been reported to any of its buildings but conservation experts will be surveying all properties, including Edinburgh Castle, as a “priority” as soon as the wind has died down.
Rail services between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street are severely disrupted and liable to cancellation at short notice. Bus services across the Capital have been affected by road closures.
Phil Verster, ScotRail Alliance managing director, said: “We will be withdrawing some services until the worst of the storm has passed.
“The safety of our passengers and workforce is our top priority and we cannot run services on these lines until our engineers have thoroughly inspected the network for any damage.”
Engineers are also on standby around the country to deal with power outages caused by the extreme weather.
Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) said: “We have 400 front line and support staff standing by and we have moved engineers to the areas we expect to be hit by the storm. Mobile generators and other resources are also being moved.
“Members of the public should not approach fallen or damaged power lines, which may still be live.”