Scotland's weather: Widespread disruption and damage after Storm Gertrude

SNOW, heavy rain and gales threaten to cause further disruption across Scotland this weekend after Storm Gertrude left a trail of destruction in its wake.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 29th January 2016, 10:33 pm
Updated Friday, 29th January 2016, 10:42 pm
Police at the scene of an overturned lorry on the M9 near Falkirk . Picture: PA
Police at the scene of an overturned lorry on the M9 near Falkirk . Picture: PA

A series of Met Office severe weather warnings extend into Monday, with up to 15cm of snow and gusts up to 80mph being predicted.

The agency warned: “It will remain very windy with severe gales across Scotland. These strong winds will be combined with frequent sleet or snow showers, leading to some drifting and blizzard conditions, especially over high ground, but even at low levels for a time.”

The grim outlook follows winds of up to 105mph in populated areas yesterday, which caused injuries from flying debris, and saw lorries blown over and buildings damaged.

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Significant disruption was caused by road and rail closures. Meanwhile, about 15,000 people were left without electricity and more than 100 schools were shut.

Trains were halted on nine rail routes and major river crossings were closed, including the Forth Road Bridge, which was hit by 91mph gusts.

An amber “be prepared” warning for heavy snow and strong winds is in force until 11am today for much of mainland Scotland. A yellow “be aware” alert covers the whole country until 6pm.

A Met Office spokesman said: “Frequent snow showers are then expected, heavy at times, with some more prolonged spells of snow likely.”

Picture: John Devlin

In the amber warning area, 5cm-10cm of snow is likely to accumulate, with more than 15cm in places above 300 metres. Elsewhere, there could be 2cm-10cm. Hail is also likely.

The spokesman added: “Gusts of 50mph-60mph are likely at times, occasionally 70mph across the far north and west. This will lead to blizzard conditions at times and drifting of snow.”

Lightning and ice building up on cables could cause further power cuts.

Picture: John Devlin

A further yellow warning for heavy rain on Monday has been issued for northern Scotland, with a similar warning for wind covering the whole country. The Met Office said frequent and heavy rain showers of 20mm-60mm could cause flooding.

Winds will gust to 60mph-70mph widely, and to 80mph in the north-west.

Nearly 40 flood warnings were in force last night, including in Tayside and Moray.

Yesterday, a rare top-level red warning was issued for Shetland, where a 105mph gust hit Lerwick at 2pm.

But Storm Gertrude blew strongest over mountains, with 144mph recorded on Cairn Gorm.

There was widespread damage from the storm. In Edinburgh, a man suffered head injuries after he was struck by flying debris in the Pinkhill area of the city.

Several people were injured when a lorry was blown onto a car on the A96 near Huntly in Aberdeenshire.

The lorry driver was one of several who had to be cut free by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service after their vehicles were toppled, with another on the M9 near Dunblane.

Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh was closed after a large section of cladding was ripped from the building, and half of the roof of a house was torn off in the Northfield area of the city.

A woman was blown over in front of a bus outside Scotland’s biggest hospital, amid “crazy” winds, according to one worker.

Two families were evacuated from their home in Clydebank after scaffolding crashed through the roof.

Half of Glasgow Sheriff Court – Scotland’s busiest – was out of action after roof damage forced the closure of eight courtrooms.

At least 112 schools were closed, including all those in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, and nearly 30 in the Highlands.

The Forth Road Bridge, which normally carries some 70,000 vehicles a day, was shut for more than five hours. The Tay Road Bridge, Friarton Bridge and Dornoch Bridge were also closed or allowed only restricted traffic.

Drivers also had to contend with a landslip on the A82 at Letterfinlay, north of Fort William, and debris dumped by the storm – including a large polytunnel in Dundee and trampoline on the A90 south of Aberdeen.

Loganair, operating for Flybe, cancelled all 11 flights yesterday afternoon at Sumburgh in Shetland, where winds gusted to 90mph. More flights were also cancelled across the Highlands and Islands, plus three British Airways flights between Edinburgh and Heathrow. Ferries were also badly affected, with no sailings on 17 of CalMac’s 26 west coast routes.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “High winds will be combined with wintry showers, making driving conditions more treacherous. Motorists should listen for and heed all local weather warnings [and] expect their journeys to take longer than usual.”