Highlands & Islands

Engineers battle to restore power after storms

Tree on line at Kyle Image copyright Network Rail Scotland
Image caption This tree was discovered across the railway line at Kyle

Thousands of homes remain without power following the storms that have been battering Scotland.

A total of 29,000 Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) customers in the north and 800 supplied by Scottish Power further south were affected by Saturday afternoon.

SHEPD said it would be unable to restore power in the north of Skye, Harris and Caithness until Sunday.

The company apologised but said weather conditions were very difficult.

It hopes to restore supplies to homes in other affected areas across the Western Isles and the Highlands by Saturday night.

It said driving snow, sheet ice and lightning were plaguing its efforts to restore power.

However, the company had succeeded in restoring supplies to 83,000 homes.

Image copyright PA
Image caption This lorry was blown over in strong winds on the Clackmannanshire Bridge
Image copyright SHEPD
Image caption Fallen trees posed problems for engineers at Balmaha near Loch Lomond

Deputy First Minister John Swinney chaired meetings of the Scottish government's resilience team on Saturday.

"Our primary concern is for the welfare of those who have been left without power as a result of the severe weather this week, in particular those who have been left without electricity for over 24 hours," he said.

"The utility companies are doing an outstanding job in working to restore services in the face of hugely challenging weather conditions and I am grateful to all those who have been working tirelessly to get systems back up and running.

Image copyright karen robb
Image caption Snow and ice have also been causing problems on the roads

"In the meantime, ministers will be receiving regular updates from agencies to ensure everything is being done to ensure the well-being of those affected."

He also said potential flooding issues were being monitored.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: "The rail industry responded quickly to get the majority of the network functioning throughout Saturday.

"Throughout the morning, Network Rail teams cleared over 400 trees from the network, garden debris and five trampolines, a fallen tree damaged overhead lines at Motherwell but Network Rail and the rail operators were able to work together to keep disruption here to a minimum."

He added: "I'm grateful to those on the frontline who have been out in very challenging conditions to try and get the network up and running again.

"We continue to advise people to check with transport operators before embarking on their journeys, particularly as they prepare to return to the working week on Monday."

Image copyright Jim Adam
Image caption A tree narrowly missed several parked vehicles in Dalry, Ayrshire
Image caption Road crews and police clear a fallen tree on the A9 northnound at Balhaldie near Dunblane

Snow and ice have also been causing problems across the country with a number of roads closed.

Two people have been taken to hospital after a car crashed with a gritter in South Ayrshire.

The accident happened on the A77 between Girvan and Maybole at about 17:00. The road has been closed.

And Cairngorm Mountain Rescue team has been called out to a fallen climber who has been caught up in blizzard conditions.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionGavin Steel, Scottish and Southern Energy: ''We would like to apologise to customers who have been without power overnight''

By lunchtime on Saturday, engineers from SSE-owned Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution had restored supplies to 73,000 customers, following hurricane winds of up to 113mph in places.

Orkney and Shetland were warned they could experience gusts of up to 100mph (160km/h). A gust of 101mph was later recorded in Shetland.

Alan Broadbent, SHEPD director of engineering, said: "Our electricity network was battered continuously by hurricane winds for eight hours on Thursday night and during much of Friday.

"This has weakened it in places, which caused more power cuts overnight.

"I know an apology may not be much comfort for our customers who have been without power, but I would like to reassure them that we are doing all we possibly can during extremely treacherous, challenging and severe weather conditions."

A Met Office yellow "be aware" warning for wind is in force for the Highlands and Northern and Western Isles until 18:00 on Saturday.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionRobert Pigott reports: ''The ferocious onslaught brought down power lines''

Another yellow warning for snow and ice is in force for most of the country until midday on Sunday.

BBC weather presenter Kawser Quamer said gusts of 40mph to 50mph could be expected quite widely across Scotland over the rest of the weekend but the storm-force winds seen in the far north would tend to lessen in strength to gales.

She added: "There have already been railway line closures due to localised flooding in the central and western Highlands. Heavy rain in these areas on Sunday night again may lead to further localised flooding and disruption."

The warning comes after hurricane-force gusts left tens of thousands of homes without power across Scotland on Friday.

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA
Image caption Engineers are working to restore rail services and electricity supplies

The bad weather has toppled power lines and uprooted trees and on Friday caused the suspension of all ScotRail trains, although some limited services later resumed.

The train operator reported more than a dozen route issues on Saturday, particularly on northern and coastal services.

A number of train services were suspended. The Inverness to Perth line will not run until Sunday at the earliest.

Full updates are available on the ScotRail website.

There are also warnings on Scotland's road bridges and some ferry services have been cancelled.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionA powerful jet stream is pushing a deep area of low pressure towards the UK. But why is the jet stream so strong? Chris Fawkes explains.

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has listed about two dozen services facing weather-related disruption or cancellation.

A number of flood alerts and warnings remain in place for much of Scotland.

Warnings and alerts are also in place in England and Wales.

Access to 999 and 101 telephone services have been restricted in some areas, including North Uist and Harris, and the Ness and Uig areas of Lewis.

A number of coastguard as well as fire and police stations are being manned in the event of an emergency in these areas.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Waves crash against the sea wall on the Ayrshire coast

SHEPD had mobilised 1,000 technical and support staff ahead of Friday's storm, with engineers working in "extremely challenging and potentially dangerous conditions" to reconnect electricity.

The company said about 1,200 engineers and support staff would be deployed on Saturday.

Eleven catering stations have been set up where people can get a hot meal.

Rural areas were the worst hit, especially around Dingwall and in Inverness-shire, the Western Isles and Skye.

Other areas affected included parts of Aberdeenshire and rural areas around Wick, Oban and Fort William, as well as Buchan, Dunblane, Dunoon, Elgin and Huntly.

Scottish Power Energy Networks said it had managed to reconnect 20,000 homes, with a further 800 still affected by "pockets of faults mainly across the central belt, from Ayrshire to Lanarkshire and across to the Lothians".

On Friday, BBC Weather said gusts reached 113mph in Stornoway, 110mph at Loch Glascarnoch, and 97mph at Altnaharra. Speeds of 61mph have been recorded overnight at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

A gust of 140mph was recorded at the summit of Cairngorm and the BBC Winterwatch studio, in a cabin on the Mar Lodge Estate in the Cairngorms, was destroyed by the winds.

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.

Other links

Have you been affected by the gales? You can email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk with your experience.

Please include a telephone number if you are willing to be contacted by a BBC journalist.

Send your pictures and videos to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (international). Or you can upload here.

Read the terms and conditions.

Or comment here:

Your contact details

If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites