Scotland braced for severe winds
The most severe weather is expected in the Highlands and northern Scotland with winds of around 80mph possible. However commuters and motorists in the central belt are also being asked to prepare for challenging conditions.
The winds are likely to impact on ferry services and lead to speed restrictions on some bridges. Network Rail and ScotRail are also warning of reduced services and emergency speed restrictions on some routes.
In addition snow showers are expected to affect the north and northeast of Scotland through Thursday and Friday, most frequent across the Northern Isles, the North Highlands and northern Aberdeenshire. Icy conditions may also develop on some roads across Scotland on Thursday night and Friday morning.
This is expected to be a short-lived cold snap, with temperatures quickly recovering to near normal over the weekend.
Transport Scotland, operating companies, local authorities, Police Scotland and the Met Office are closely monitoring the situation to prepare for the conditions and the Multi Agency Response Team will be operational for the duration of the alerts.
The full Alerts, including the Chief Forecaster's Assessment and a map showing the areas included in the Alerts, are available here.
Martin Thomson, Winter Resilience Manager for Transport Scotland, said:
“Transport Scotland is working closely with transport operators, the Met office and Police Scotland to make sure that the most useful and up to date information is given to those who need it most. We have held a number of meetings with key partners and tonight (Weds) we will activate the Multi Agency Response team.
"Traffic Scotland are already informing the travelling public about the expected difficult conditions on Thursday morning. The Scottish Government is also monitoring the situation to assess what impact these warnings will have and stand ready to respond.
"I would also urge the travelling public to consider the conditions before they set-off on their journeys. They should listen to radio reports, visit the Traffic Scotland website or twitter feed, and carefully consider police advice."
Graeme Forrester, Senior Met Office Advisor, said:
“We are working closely with emergency responders in Scotland, including our partners within Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, to ensure that everyone can prepare for the expected severe weather.
"We currently have an advisor sitting within the Control Centre at South Queensferry who is able to give up-to-date advice to the team in order to keep Scotland’s roads as clear and as safe as possible during this relatively short-lived period of severe weather.
"The worst of the conditions are forecast in the Highlands and northern Scotland with winds of up to 80mph possible. However, parts of the central belt will also be affected by some very strong winds during Thursday morning's rush hour period."
Chief Superintendent Iain Murray Head of Road Policing, Police Scotland, said:
“The weather in Scotland can change very quickly and it’s vital drivers are prepared. In recent years we have seen high winds, blizzards, snow and freezing conditions. The next few days is expected to bring with it some strong winds and severe cold weather and I would advise motorists to take care. Allow extra time for your journey and a keep a few emergency supplies, such as water and food in your vehicle to cover any eventualities.”
A spokesman for ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne said:
“We have had a very stormy start to the winter with many services affected by high winds in the last few weeks. The forecast for Thursday morning is looking particularly severe and we would advise ferry travellers to take this into account when planning journeys in the next few days. We are grateful for the patience and understanding of all our customers at this time.”
The Scottish Government’s Ready for Winter campaign, delivered in partnership with the British Red Cross, provides the public with a range of advice and information on preparing for winter weather. Further information is available at www.readyscotland.org
The Met office infographic explaining strong winds can be found at:
The Multi Agency Response Team (MART), based at the Traffic Control Centre at South Queensferry, includes representatives from Traffic Scotland, Transport Scotland, the police, rail operators, road operating companies and the Met Office.
For real time journey information visit www.trafficscotland.org follow @trafficscotland on Twitter, or call 0800 028 14 14.
Information on planned treatments and number of gritters deployed is available from around 3pm each day at http://trafficscotland.org/wintertreatment/
Rail, ferries and air users should check with individual service operators’ websites.
Contact: Danny Chalmers, Transport Scotland, 07767 412 061.