Warnings upgraded to ‘Amber’ as Storm Caroline closes in

Works have been suspended on Queensferry Crossing due to the weather. Picture: Lisa Ferguson:
Works have been suspended on Queensferry Crossing due to the weather. Picture: Lisa Ferguson:
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Worried forecasters have raised their weather warnings to ‘Amber’ across Scotland tonight as the strength of Storm Caroline becomes clearer.

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Ferocious winds and heavy snow, combined with plunging temperatures, are expected to bring chaos across the country with some places hit harder than others.

Energy companies, transport firms and emergency services have all told people to brace themselves for widespread disruption.

Bosses at the Forth Road Bridge are among those already to put in place storm measures after scrapping planned work on the Queensferry Crossing to allow traffic to flow in the event the older structure may need to close.

Workers on the Forth Bridge and Queensferry Crossing have been preparing for the storm by adding extra sandbags to signs and stacking cones to weigh them down.

Police Scotland tonight issued a separate warning to drivers of HGVs to take ‘extreme caution and warned they could be forced to park up on safety grounds.

Airlines, including Loganair who operate out of Edinburgh, say they expect services to be hit - particularly in routes to the north where winds speeds are expected to top 90mph.

They are already offering free changes to bookings.

ScotRail has already suspended some services to Aberdeen, Inverness, Fort William and Glasgow Queen Street, Wick, Oban, Mallaig and Kyle of Lochalsh.

Routes from Edinburgh will be checked for potential debris along with those on other routes in the morning.

Bosses and urged people to check services before they travel.

Safety and Sustainability Director David Lister said: “This isn’t a decision we’ve taken lightly but the safety and security of our staff and customer has to come first.”

CalMac’s Commercial Director, Graeme Macfarlan said: “With Storm Caroline expected to see winds gusting to 70 mph across the north of Scotland tomorrow disruption to ferry services is a high possibility.”

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “We are facing some challenging weather conditions in the next few days as a result of Storm Caroline and we will be working closely with our partners to try to mitigate the worst of these and get information out to the public so that they can plan their journeys. Disruption is very likely but we will make every effort to recover the network as quickly as possible when incidents do occur.

“On Thursday, the strength of the wind during the morning peak period is likely to lead to bridge restrictions and closures and we would urge drivers to check ahead. The Traffic Scotland mobile site gives them up-to-date information on any incidents on the network. The wind thresholds on the Traffic Scotland website will let people see when restrictions are likely.

“Moving forward, snow and ice will become more of a feature of the storm and our gritters and patrols will be out across the network. There is plenty of salt available and new vehicles are being trialled to improve our response. Our gritter tracker is back online so that people can see where our gritters have been out in their area.”

Gritters and patrols will be deployed across the trunk road network with up to 8in (20cm) of snow and blizzard conditions forecast in places tomorrow and Saturday.

Dozens of workers have been evacuated from oil platforms in the North Sea, while most ferry services are on high alert with services likely to be cancelled.

While Aberdeen’s Christmas market has also been cancelled for the storm.

Forecasters said the west and north-west were likley to bear the brunt of conditions, but drivers in and around Edinburgh were already feeling the effects increasing winds as rush hour began.