Storm Caroline disrupts rail, ferry traffic and also shuts down schools in Scotland

 Thursday, December 7, 2017 


Storm CarolineStorm Caroline’s strong winds disrupted rail and ferry transport and closed down dozens of schools in Scotland. The Met Office has amber “be prepared” and yellow” be aware” warnings in place for Thursday across Scotland.

Yellow warnings have been issued for snow, ice and wind on Friday and Saturday for large parts of the UK.

Warnings were issued earlier this week of winds reaching 90mph over parts of Scotland during the storm. Scotland’s transport minister, Humza Yousaf, said the country faced “challenging conditions”.

Mountaineering Scotland has reported gusts reaching 116mph on the summit of Cairn Gorm mountain in the Cairngorms. Winds gusting to 91mph have also been recorded at Dounreay nuclear site in Caithness, which was closed for the day at 13:00 because of the bad weather.

High winds in Orkney have seen wave heights of up 45ft (14m) being recorded at the European Marine Energy Centre’s Billia Croo wave test site.

The Met Office has updated its yellow warning for snow and ice on Thursday to include southern Scotland and Northern Ireland. All schools on Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in the Western Isles have been closed to pupils as a precaution. In the Highland Council area, more than 50 schools, which include nurseries, primary and secondary schools, have been closed because of the weather.

All schools in Orkney were closed from 11:30. In Shetland all schools were closed from lunchtime and will remain shut on Friday.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has 10 flood alerts and 11 flood warnings in place for areas including Ayrshire, Lochaber, Caithness and Sutherland.

Electricity company SSE Networks said it had restored power to more than 3,900 properties, mainly in the Western Isles and north Highlands. About 780 households across Scotland are without power, the company added.

Moray Council has warned that high winds and spring tides would lead to large waves at low-lying areas of coastline.

The council said Garmouth and Kingston were expected to be cut off for a short period on Thursday afternoon. It has also warned of blizzard conditions that are expected to follow in the wake of the storm.

ScotRail Alliance said that because of the Met Office forecast for winds gusting to up to 90mph in some areas, it had suspended the following services:

Speed restrictions will also be in place for services between Perth and Aberdeen and Perth and Inverness as winds of up to 60 mph are expected in areas those routes pass through.
ScotRail Alliance said this would mean trains would be slower and services would be disrupted.

Rail services between Glasgow Central and Neilston were disrupted for almost two hours after a trampoline blew onto the track at Patterton in East Renfrewshire.

Due to the severe weather the bus company Stagecoach said it has had to suspended its services in the north of Scotland.

Ferry operators Caledonian MacBrayne and Serco Northlink have warned of cancellations and disruption to routes on Scotland’s west and north coasts.

Ferry sailings to and from Shetland were cancelled on Thursday night.

Serco Northlink is also advising customers that both of Friday’s passenger sailings from Lerwick and Aberdeen are under review with a high probability of cancellations.

The crew of the ferry Hamnavoe that left Scrabster in Caithness earlier on Thursday, had to seek shelter in Scapa Flow in Orkney having been unable to berth in Stromness.
CairnGorm Mountain snowsports centre near Aviemore said it would be closed on Thursday because of the expected high winds.

The Scottish government held a resilience meeting on Wednesday to discuss the impact of the storm.

Mr 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.”

He said strong winds were likely to result in restrictions and closures on road bridges on Thursday morning.

Mr Yousaf added: “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.”

It has emerged that, as the storm approached Scotland, bad weather caused a gangway connected to a North Sea oil platform to separate from an accommodation vessel.

The gangway between the Safe Boreas and the Mariner platform east of Shetland automatically disconnected due to worsening weather conditions.

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