Highlands & Islands

Second storm brewing as 'Barbara' causes more disruption

Ferry in Shetland
Image caption Shetland saw some of the worst of the weather as ferry services faced gale-force winds

Scotland has been facing a second day of Storm Barbara disruption, as Storm Conor also closes in.

Road and ferry travel have been hampered again by gale-force winds of between 65 and 70mph, but train services have been largely unaffected.

Meanwhile, an amber alert has been issued for the Northern Isles and part of north Caithness on Boxing Day.

The Met Office has named the next storm Conor and is forecasting winds possibly reaching 90mph in some areas.

The highest recorded wind gust during Storm Barbara has been 85mph at Sella Ness in Shetland.

The Met Office now has yellow "be aware" warnings in place for high winds for the rest of the weekend and Monday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Storm Barbara had an impact on parts of the rail network on Friday but services were largely unaffected on Christmas Eve

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued six flood warnings in the Tayside area and eight flood alerts in parts of the Highlands, Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles, Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

Ferry operator CalMac reported that services were running to Lewis, Harris and North Uist in the Western Isles after all services were cancelled on Friday.

Operations director Drew Collier said: "There is no doubt that Storm Barbara has made her presence firmly felt but we were able to react rapidly to all weather windows presented, which allowed many people, particularly in the southern area of the network to continue with some semblance of normality as they approached the festive period."

ScotRail said it planned to run services as scheduled on Christmas Eve, with the possibility of some minor alterations.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Heavy rainfall affected parts of Argyll during Storm Barbara

Energy company SSE said the electricity distribution network in the north of Scotland had "stood up well to challenging conditions" during Storm Barbara.

As of 16:00, engineers had restored power to more than 25,000 homes, reconnecting all customers who had been without electricity overnight.

One of the worst affected areas was the Western Isles, where a lightning strike caused power cuts for about 13,000 customers on Lewis and Harris. SSE said all homes were reconnected within two hours.

A suspected lightning strike also knocked out several transmitters on Mull and in Oban and surrounding areas, affecting BBC television and radio services on DTT. BBC Engineering said it was working to restore normal service as soon as possible.

'Safety a priority'

As Storm Conor approaches, SSE said engineers and equipment were being moved to "strategic locations", with more than 600 frontline and support employees on standby.

Dale Cargill, from SSE, added: "Our network has stood up well to the conditions but we won't be complacent and remain prepared to respond quickly to disruption to supplies, where it is safe to do so.

"The safety of our customers and engineers will remain a priority as we continue to respond to the impacts of Storm Barbara, particularly given the presence of lightning and continuing poor weather conditions."

Image caption Wind gusts could reach more than 80mph in the Northern Isles, and more than 60mph in other parts of Scotland on Boxing Day

Met Office warnings

  • Sunday: Three yellow warnings of wind have been issued for northern areas, as well as Dumfries, Galloway, Lothian and Borders. The Met Office says after a brief lull, winds will increase again to bring gusts of about 70mph to exposed coasts and hills, with the risk of 80mph later in the north of Shetland.
  • Please be aware of the risk of disruption to transport and of large waves overtopping sea fronts.
  • Monday: Two amber warnings about winds gusting to 80mph, and possibly 90mph, have been issued for the far north and Northern Isles in particular. The winds are expected to ease through Boxing Day afternoon.
  • There is potential for renewed travel disruption (for example bridge closures and ferry delays), disruption to power supplies, as well as large waves affecting coastal areas.
  • Yellow warnings of high winds have been issued for much of the rest of Scotland.
  • The Met Office has been regularly updating the warnings. For updates go to the Met Office website.

Scotland's transport minister, Humza Yousaf, said: "We would urge everyone to check the latest sources of information before they travel and keep in mind that the situation can change quickly.

"They should leave plenty time to get to where they need to be and the transport operators are doing what they can to help people arrive at their destinations and get any last minute festive shopping done safely.

"We shall be continuing to monitor the situation over the festive period including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day to make sure that the most reliable and relevant information is being communicated to people as early as possible."

People can call 105, a free new national phone line, if the weather damages their local power network and affects electricity supply.

The number is available to people in England, Scotland and Wales, regardless of their electricity supplier.

Check out the latest travel news for Scotland

Image copyright PA

Around the country

For the latest on the roads visit the BBC's travel news page and keep up to date with incidents and roadworks on the motorways here.

Around the country you can check for updates from:

Alternatively, for regular travel bulletins listen live to BBC Radio Scotland and follow @BBCTravelScot.

In times of severe disruption you can also follow the BBC Scotland severe weather Twitter list of key sources.

Below are a number of other traffic information sources.

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