EDINBURGH is braced for gale-force winds and snow as the west of Scotland is battered by a violent Atlantic storm.
• Forth Road Bridge closed to High-sided vehicles, cyclists, and motorbikes.
The Met Office has issued amber warnings – alerting residents to “be prepared” – as 80mph gusts rip through the Lothians over the next 48 hours before snowfall on Friday.
It is thought around 15cm of snow will drop by the end of the week.
The storm comes after a day of disruption across the Capital which saw a swathe of festive attractions shut by high winds. At Edinburgh’s Christmas, the Star Flyer, Big Wheel, Ice Wall and both ice rinks were shut in St Andrew Square and Princes Street Gardens yesterday while The Royal Botanic Garden also shut its gates amid safety fears.
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Edinburgh Zoo was also forced to close with a spokeswoman adding that bosses had yet to decide whether the zoo would be reopening its doors on Wednesday.
David Knott, curator of the Living Collection at The Royal Botanic Garden, said many city attractions were being forced to “play it by ear” in determining whether to open over the next two days.
“The Garden has had to shut as a precautionary measure, as have many local attractions, and it’s difficult to say when they’ll be able to reopen,” he said. “At the minute, it appears that things are going to be getting worse across Wednesday and into Thursday, and so we’ll just have to play it by ear.
“The last time we had a weather bomb like this was January 2012 and we suffered considerable damage.”
Forecasters have advised travellers to expect delays and localised flooding across Lothian.
ScotRail has axed half a dozen services in response to the storm – including the sleeper service between Edinburgh and Fort William.
Meanwhile, the Forth Road Bridge was closed to high-sided vehicles and a reduced speed limit has been in operation.
Dan Williams, from The Met Office, said warned Edinburgh residents to be wary of flooding.
He said: “As this storm begins to take its toll on the west coast of Scotland, the Lothians will be experiencing severe gales. Those winds could hit between 70-80mph in West Lothian, and up to 60mph in Edinburgh and further east.
“That’s also going to create unusually high waves near coastal areas, and so we would advise residents to be extremely careful as there is the potential for flooding.”
Analysts say parts of western Scotland should expect sea swells of up to 40ft tall blowing in from the Atlantic.
Travel Scotland warned drivers to anticipate reduced visibility and increased journey times until Friday morning.
By then forecasters believe the high winds will begin to subside – making way for heavy snows.
“We’re anticipating between 2-5cm of snowfall in the early hours of Friday morning,” Mr Williams said. “But elevated ground over 200 metres could see up to 15cm of snow this week.”
ScotRail has warned passengers in parts of Scotland to avoid travelling over the next 48 hours where possible.
“We’re letting people know as soon as possible to allowtime to consider alternative travel options,” said deputy managing director Kenny McPhail.
“It’s worth noting that, while replacement buses may be available at key locations, they cannot be guaranteed due to likely road conditions, so if you can bring forward or postpone your journey please do so.”