Conor? Take cover!
Gales, blizzards, treacherous driving conditions, ferry disruption and power cuts as storm throws much of Scotland into turmoil
STORM Conor blasted Scotland yesterday as gales and blizzards ripped through, bringing damage and disruption.
Much of the country was under a blanket of snow as temperatures plummeted following one of the warmest Christmas Days on record.
Shoppers braving the storm for Boxing Day sales were hit with hurricaneforce winds which exceeded 90mph in some parts. Those on the roads were also met with treacherous conditions with ice, hail, strong winds and snow making some routes impassable.
Power outages were again widespread, affecting families in dozens of communities including in Inverness-shire, the Western Isles, Caithness and Argyll.
An amber ‘be prepared’ weather warning was in place across the Highlands and Northern Isles yesterday, with yellow ‘be aware’ warnings issued for much of the rest of Scotland.
The strongest gust during Storm Conor was 94mph recorded at 11am at Sella Ness, Shetland. Forty miles away, in Lerwick, a gust of 87mph hit and wind speeds of more than 70mph were experienced throughout the Highlands and islands. Met Office forecaster Matt Roe said: ‘It’s basically a cold, windy day across Scotland with a mix of everything.’
Damage to power lines caused by trees falling and direct lightning strikes to poles and transformers meant thousands were plunged into darkness.
Engineers from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) were once again out in force. By afternoon, as the storm was beginning to subside, they had restored power to 9,000 properties. However, a further 1,600 were still cut off.
A turbine was left to burn itself out at Arecleoch Wind Farm near Barrhill, Ayrshire, after catching fire in high winds while it was switched off for maintenance.
Storm Conor came hot on the heels of Storm Barbara, which swept across the country just before Christmas and caused 26,000 homes to lose power.
Dale Cargill, director of customer operations for SSEN, said: ‘Our network continues to stand up well to the challenging conditions and we are well resourced to respond quickly to further disruption.’
Traffic Scotland reported sporadic wintry showers on roads such as the M8, M90 and the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass.
High wind warnings were in place on bridges, including the Forth Road Bridge and Erskine Bridge.
Ferry services once again struggled to cope, with several routes to the Western and Northern Isles severely disrupted. CalMac’s operations director Drew Collier said: ‘This has been a difficult weekend for our communities, customers, crews and port staff.’
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency had flood alerts in place for Caithness and Sutherland, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
Meanwhile, it was a very different story south of the Border, with many enjoying glorious sunshine on Boxing Day.
Although Scotland will today still be blustery in places, a more settled spell is expected to set in.
Descent into chaos: A fuel tanker jackknifed off the A9 at Drumochter in the appalling conditions, causing severe traffic disruption
Making waves: Hardy souls take advantage of a break in the weather at the annual Nippy Dipper event at Aberdeen Beach
Seaside: One couple, and their dog, enjoy a mild day in Bournemouth
Burnt out: A turbine at Arecleoch Wind Farm