Transport services in Scotland have been thrown into chaos and more than 100,000 homes were left without power as Storm Arwen battered parts of the country.
The Met Office issued a rare red weather alert for wind from Friday at 3pm until 2am on Saturday, warning some parts of the country could see gusts reaching 80mph to 90mph.
An amber weather warning for wind remained in place for the Highlands, Central Belt, including Edinburgh, Grampian and Orkney and Shetland until 9am on Saturday.
Police warned people not to travel “under any circumstances” in areas covered by the red warning.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) confirmed that as of 9.30am on Saturday, 75,000 homes in Scotland were still without power due to the damage caused by the storm.
The firm has restored power to more than 40,000 homes, but warned the weather was severely hampering its work.
The main areas affected include Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perthshire and the Moray coast.
Mark Rough, director of customer operations at SSEN, said: “The impact of Storm Arwen continues to be felt across much of the country and has resulted in significant damage to our network across the north of Scotland.
“Our teams have been out since first light this morning to fully assess the extent of damage, supported by helicopter patrols to identify the worst affected areas, as we continue to restore power to customers in what remains very challenging conditions.
“Despite detailed preparations, the prolonged and severe nature of the weather continues to hamper efforts to restore supplies, with the high winds only subsiding from the early hours of this morning.”
He apologised to customers for the inconvenience and said further updates will be given at 1.30pm.
Network Rail Scotland (NRS) confirmed services in the north from Aberdeen to Inverness and Aberdeen to Dundee had to be closed on Friday night due to trees and debris on the lines.
Some customers on an Aberdeen-bound train were stranded at Huntly railway station in Aberdeenshire for 17 hours due to the storm.
Passenger Steve Tremlett documented the delay on his Twitter account and confirmed the service finally pulled into Aberdeen at about 8.15am on Saturday.
The east coast line between Edinburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed and the North Berwick line have also had to close due to the extreme weather.
On Friday evening Karl Grewar, head of integrated control at NRS, said the lines were closed for safety reasons and will not reopen “until it is safe to do so”.
“We will be doing everything we can to open the lines as soon as we’re able to get people moving,” he said.
Photos on social media showed significant damage caused by the high winds in the north east town of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire.
One picture showed an entire garage roof that had blown off and hit the side of a nearby house.
CalMac Ferries confirmed multiple services had to be cancelled due to the extreme wind causing dangerous sailing conditions at sea.
Part of the A1 in East Lothian, between Haddington and the Thistly Cross roundabout, had to close because of 84mph winds forecast for Friday evening.
The closure led to major delays in the area with motorists having to wait up to 45 minutes in queues.
Travel watchdog Traffic Scotland reported multiple trees falling on the A9 causing road blockages, and confirmed the A86 had to close due to the extreme weather.
Superintendent Simon Bradshaw, from Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit, said motorists in the areas affected by the red weather warning “should not travel under any circumstances” and added those in amber and yellow warning zones should “not journey out unless for essential purposes and if you are doing so, to be mindful of the challenging conditions you will face”.
The red warning stretched along the east coast from Middlesbrough to beyond Aberdeen and was the first maximum alert to be issued since Storm Dennis in February 2020.
Yellow warnings for wind were also issued in Ireland, where a man died after a tree fell on his car in Antrim on Friday. Another man died after being hit by a falling tree in Cumbria.
Grahame Madge, a Met Office spokesman, said the forecaster did not “issue red warnings lightly” and warned people to stay away from the affected areas.
The warning, which is the highest the Met Office issues, means the impact is likely to be severe with the potential for damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down.
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The decision by the Met Office to issue a rare red weather warning for strong winds signals a potentially damaging and dangerous risk to life in some areas of Scotland.
“People in these affected areas should not travel under any circumstances, including motorists.”
He added: “The Scottish Government is in close contact with local authorities and the emergency services to ensure people in the affected areas receive the latest information, advice and support where needed.”
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