Police Scotland travel alert as Storm Isha winds hit 84mph

Video caption,

BBC Scotland Weather’s Joy Dunlop with the latest weather forecast as Storm Isha hits the country.

Police Scotland has warned drivers to “avoid travel” after Storm Isha winds of 84mph (135km/h) were recorded overnight.

It comes after a rare red danger to life warning was issued by the Met Office for northeast Scotland.

ScotRail suspended all of its train services from 19:00 on Sunday until after Monday’s rush hour.

Widespread warnings are in place across the UK as storm Isha brings rain and gusts of wind of up to 99mph (159km/h).

Overnight Gusts of 84mph were recorded in the village of Salsburgh, North Lanarkshire, 81mph (130 km/h) in Kirkwall on Orkney and 80mph (129km/h) in Wick in the Highlands.

Power cuts affected about 25,000 properties in the north of Scotland overnight, with about 12,000 of them reconnected before dawn, according to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN).

Police said people should only travel “if absolutely necessary” due to debris on roads, flooding and short notice closures.

Stretches of the M9 and M74 were among roads closed overnight due to fallen trees, according to Traffic Scotland.

The Met Office red warning, issued shortly before midnight, was in place from 01:00 to 05:00.

Image source, Network Rail Scotland

Image caption,

Network Rail Scotland posted a picture of tree on the line at Gartcosh, North Lanarkshire

An amber warning for high winds across most of the country – particularly exposed coastal areas in the north – ran from 18:00 on Sunday and expired at 06:00.

Hundreds of homes have lost power across the country due to the extreme conditions.

Dozens of flights have been disrupted, several ferry services have been halted and drivers are being warned of dangerous conditions due to high winds and surface water.

And the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has 50 flood warnings in place across the country.

Video caption,

A tree felled by high winds lands on a car in Lochwinnoch

Phil Campbell, ScotRail’s customer operations director, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme that train services were expected to reopen in stages between late morning and early afternoon.

He said teams had worked through the night to clear debris from the lines and services would remain suspended until Network Rail had inspected all the routes across the country for safety issues.

“What they’ll be looking for is whether the overhead lines have been damaged, whether the track is safe and whether any debris has blown onto the rail estate,” said Mr Campbell.

“Between Garrowhill and Easterhouse, there’s over ten trees alone that need to be cleared from the line, and those trees are also blocking the overheads.

Image caption,

No morning rush hour trains were running from Glasgow Central station on Monday

“So there’s a significant volume of work for our colleagues at Network Rail to work through this morning.”

Some services could run at reduced speeds and Mr Campbell urged customers to check their journeys before travelling.

He added: “As soon as routes become open, we’ll of course put that on our website and social media.”

‘High risk of disruption’

There is also expected to be disruption on the roads, with drivers being urged to consider whether they have to travel.

Transport Scotland’s head of transport resilience, Ashleigh Robson, said: “Surface water will reduce visibility when driving, high-sided vehicles are at risk and the strength of winds could also pose a risk to pedestrians.

“The advice from Police Scotland is to expect a high risk of disruption across Scotland.”

  • A1 closed in both directions at Dunbar
  • A1 is closed in both directions between Spott and Cockburnspath
  • A68 closed in both directions at Jedburgh due to flooding
  • A83 Rest and be Thankful has been diverted onto the Old Military Road
  • Restrictions are in place for double decker or high-sided vehicles for some bridge crossings, including the Dornoch Bridge, Tay Road Bridge, Queensferry Crossing, Erskine Bridge, Kessock Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge.

Many ferry services between the Scottish mainland and the Inner and Outer Hebrides have been cancelled on Sunday evening and Monday as a result of the weather.

Sailings to Arran are off, as are ferries from Oban to Castlebay in Barra.

The early Monday sailing from Stornoway to Ullapool is also cancelled.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Heavy rain is expected to cause disruption on the roads

A number of flight arrival and departures have been cancelled this morning at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports.

Dozens of flights to and from Scotland were diverted on Sunday because of difficulty landing.

They included an Easyjet flight from Edinburgh to Bristol which landed in Paris, leaving passengers travelling without passports unable to stay in a hotel overnight.

Ryanair flights to Edinburgh were diverted to Cologne Bonn airport in Germany, including a flight from Tenerife and another from Seville.

An Easyjet flight from Fuerteventura to Edinburgh landed in Manchester and a TUI flight from Sharm El Sheikh to Glasgow declared an emergency and landed in Manchester.

Storm Isha caused widespread disruption in Scotland overnight.

Winds did not turn out to be quite as strong as forecast by the Met Office, which issued a red warning for gusts of up to 100mph in the far north and northeast of the mainland, but they were still very strong.

The highest gust recorded at a low altitude in Scotland was 84mph at the village of Salsburgh next to the M8 in North Lanarkshire, according to the Met Office.

Fallen trees and other debris closed a number of trunk roads including the A1 in East Lothian and the M9 between Grangemouth and Bannockburn.

All passenger and freight services on Scotland’s railways have been suspended until later in the day as crews clear debris.

There was widespread disruption to ferries and many planes were diverted.

More flooding is expected across Scotland with 17 regional flood alerts and 50 local flood warnings in place.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Sepa duty flood manager Janine Hensman said heavy rainfall over the past two days had combined with significant amounts of snowmelt from last week.

“We had a dramatic temperature increase over the weekend and combined with the rainfall has meant that the rivers have responded quite quickly and there’s a lot of water around.”

The key affected areas include the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway rivers, which peaked overnight, with levels now falling.

Perth Council is in the process of closing the floodgates at Perth but levels are not expected to reach those of the October flood event.

‘Relatively rare’

Ms Hensman warned that peak levels were still expected on the River Tay and the River Spey, with more floods expected in the north of the country.

She urged people to drive with care and to not walk through flood waters.

She added: “Rivers are going to be high all day and possibly into tomorrow as well and we urge everyone to keep an eye on our website which has a three day public flood forecast and advice on how to prepare.”

Isha is the ninth named storm to hit the UK since September.

The Met Office said it was “relatively rare” for the whole of the country to be affected by storm warnings.

It said there is a good chance of power cuts, which could affect mobile phone signal in affected areas, while roads and bridges are likely to be shut.

Image caption,

This fallen tree blocked a whole road in Aberdeen

Met Office forecaster Ellie Glaisyer said: “It’s a very widespread storm and it’s going to be affecting everybody. Heavy rain will affect everybody, those strong winds will affect everybody. That’s the main difference to previous storms we have seen.”

She added: “Anybody driving on Sunday evening and through Monday should be wary of water on the roads, lots of spray, perhaps some branches and trees may have fallen over causing roads to be blocked.

“There’s some large waves as well that could cause disruption to ferry services and the strong winds could cause some delays to trains and plane travel.”

The latest winter storm follows a week of disruption caused by snow in north and north-east Scotland.

More than 200 Highland Council schools have been closed, along with more than 60 in Aberdeenshire and almost 20 in Moray.

All schools in Shetland have been closed since Thursday.

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