Travel alert over gale-force winds

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Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Schools have been closed and travel restrictions are in place as winds of more than 100mph sweep across Britain.

Amber warnings have been issued by the Met Office for the north and central belt of Scotland, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, as an Atlantic jet stream reaches land.

Gusts between 60mph and 70mph are expected in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where the Met Office has put in place y ellow “be prepared” warnings

The worst of the weather is due in the early hours of the morning with disruption expected during the morning rush-hour, particularly north of the border.

It is feared buildings could be damaged, trees uprooted and travel and power lines affected by the high winds, similar to those which caused widespread damage in 2013.

The ferocious gales have been stirred up by an extra-powerful jet stream triggered by plunging temperatures in the United States hitting warmer air in the south.

Forecasters said the 250mph jet stream would bring two ”vigorous depressions” to the UK over the coming days.

Flood warnings are in place in central and northern Scotland and a ll schools in the Western Isles and Orkney have been closed as a precaution, with ferry and train timetables reduced because of the winds.

Scottish Hydro Power said engineers have been deployed to potential problem areas in its northern network and extra staff will be manning call centres.

Will Lang, chief meteorologist at the Met Office, said: ”The winds will be at their strongest through the early hours of Friday and this brings the potential for disruption across Scotland, but there is a chance that strong, gusty winds could persist into the early part of the morning rush-hour as well.

”We’d advise anyone planning to travel during the early part of the morning and into the early rush-hour to be prepared for some transport disruption and check traffic and travel conditions before heading out to ensure you can make your journey safely.”

Lashing rain is also to continue along the west coast today and over the weekend as a second storm is predicted to bring more gale-force winds on Saturday.

The AA warned that drivers faced ”potentially hazardous” conditions.

John Seymour, national manager of the AA’s severe weather team, said: ”Scotland, particularly, is going to take something of a battering and drivers need to be prepared for possible widespread travel disruption and challenging driving conditions across the affected areas.

”If you have no choice but to drive, keep your speed down as sudden gusts can catch you out and there is a risk of debris on the roads.”

Despite the storms, temperatures will be ”exceptionally mild for that time of year” – widely hovering at 14C (57.2F) to 15C (59F), but snow looks set to arrive next week.

Forecaster Mr Lang said a wave of far cooler temperatures will hit which look set to bring snow flurries to parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland, especially on the higher ground.

And north west England and Wales could also be hit by snowstorms over hilly areas.

Tens of thousands of homes were left without power, trees were uprooted, trains and flights cancelled and floods crippled huge swathes of the UK when storms arrived on the south coast in October 2013.

Bethany Freeman, 17, died when the tree came down on a caravan as she slept in Kent, while 14-year-old Dylan Atkins was swept out to sea when he played near waves in Newhaven, East Sussex.

The storm has already caused travel disruption with Dublin airport cancelling flights due to “severe gusty winds”.

In a statement on its website, the airport said: “Severe, gusty winds are affecting the flight schedule at Dublin Airport with a number of flights diverting to Shannon and Belfast Airports.

“Departing passengers and those intending to meet and greet arriving passengers are advised to consult with their airline’s website for the latest update.

“Some early morning flights may also be affected and passengers are advised to check with their airline before coming to the airport.”

Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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