Scottish travel alert after red warning of 80mph winds
Transport Scotland has said there is a risk of major travel disruption in light of a Met Office red warning of wind in parts of the country.
The weather alert covers Central, Tayside, Fife, Strathclyde, south west Scotland, Lothian and the Borders.
There could be gusts of over 80mph in exposed places in the areas affected.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said it was predicted to peak around the evening rush hour and advised commuters who could leave work early to do so.
The Met Office has issued its highest level of warning over severe winds expected to affect much of central and southern Scotland from 10:00 on Thursday until 06:00 on Friday.
It said police had advised that conditions for travel would be "extremely poor" and there was the likelihood of "significant delays".
A red warning advises people to take action to prepare for the severe weather and they are only issued "a few times a year".
End Quote Keith Brown Transport Minister
A lot of work is already under way to ensure Scotland is prepared for any likely transport disruption caused by severe winds”
Mr Brown said that the latest information was that the worst period was expected between 15:00 and 18:00.
"They have issued a red alert, which suggests speeds could even exceed 90mph," he said.
"As well as possible bridge closures, we need to prepare for blown over vehicles and trees."
Transport Scotland has urged the public to pay attention to any travel warnings issued by the police.
It will continue to operate its multi-agency response team for the rest of the week.
As well as traffic problems on the road and rail network it warned there could be disruption to power supplies and damage to property.
Mr Brown said: "Tomorrow looks set to be a major challenge for our transport system, commuters and the public.
"I can assure them that a lot of work is already under way to ensure Scotland is prepared for any likely transport disruption caused by severe winds."
The Met Office said there were "some uncertainties" about the exact location of the most damaging winds and advised the public to monitor its forecasts.
Much of northern and central Britain is also covered by an amber warning for high winds.
They should tend to ease from the west on Thursday night with severe gales becoming confined to north east Scotland by the early hours of Friday.
A lower-scale yellow warning of snows covering more northerly parts of Scotland is also in place for Thursday.