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Scotland on storm alert

Scotland is braced for more bad weather as warnings of strong winds and heavy rain continue.

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Transport providers have been preparing for the remains of Hurricane Katia, and say they have contingency plans in place ahead of the evening rush hour, when the impact is expected to be at its worst.

As winds and heavy rain lash the country, warnings to expect gusts of up to 70mph remain in place. The Environment Agency has issued several flood alerts for inland and coastal areas.

The effects were felt by pedestrians seeking shelter in windswept city centres, and by drivers attempting journeys on major roads and bridges, such as the Tay Road and Forth Road bridges, which were open only to cars. Ferry services were disrupted and a number of homes in the west of Scotland were without power.

At Musselburgh, the afternoon's racing was abandoned after one event, as jockeys and trainers agreed that the strong gusts in the home straight were too much for racing. The Tour of Britain cycle race, which began in Peebles on Sunday, also cancelled its second stage, in Cumbria, for weather-related safety reasons.

Billy Payne, forecaster for MeteoGroup, said: "Gusts are from 60-70mph in some places, possibly higher, especially in exposed places in parts of western Scotland like the islands and hilly areas. The heavy rain will be mostly confined to the north and west of Scotland today and tomorrow. There is a risk of some flooding in north-west Scotland with the high rainfall totals."

Commuters have been urged to allow extra time for homeward travel, though Scotrail’s website was reporting relatively few changes to services in the afternoon. A statement said: “We are monitoring the situation and, as a precaution, we have extra staff in place. Contingency plans are in place for the introduction of temporary timetables, where appropriate.”

The emergency services have prepared for an increase in weather-related call-outs. David Goodhew, Assistant Chief Officer of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue said: "Crews are fully prepared to respond to whatever weather-related situations present themselves, and making sure that specialist flooding equipment, 4x4 vehicles and emergency response boats are being made ready to respond as required.

The UK sees a storm of this strength around once per year, and the remnants of a hurricane reach Britain once every few years, MeteoGroup said. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for today, warning people in Northern Ireland, central and south west Scotland and north west and north east England to be prepared.

The warning, classed as an amber alert, said: "The remains of Hurricane Katia are expected to come across the UK on Monday, bringing a spell of very windy weather. There remains some uncertainty about its track and intensity, though with increasing indications that Scotland and Northern Ireland are most likely to bear the brunt. The public should be aware of the risk of disruption to transport and of the possibility of damage to trees and structures."

Katia is the second major hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season and was rated as category four on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale at its peak. The scale rates hurricanes from one to five, with five being the strongest.

Afternoon update

Ferries: Caledonian MacBrayne is warning of disruption and likely delays due to adverse weather on many routes. Services from Oban to the islands of Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, and Islay have been cancelled, as has the Loch Fyne service from Tarbert to Portavadie www.calmac.co.uk. Tonight's Stena Line services between Belfast and Stranraer will not run www.stenaline.co.uk.

 

Trains:  The poor weather is affecting the service between Glasgow, Kilwinning, Ardrossan Harbour and Largs, and an emergency timetable is in operation on this route with alternative transport being provided for passengers. www.scotrail.co.uk/gales

Roads: Traffic Scotland is warning of high winds on many routes, with major bridges closed to high-sided vehicles. trafficscotland.org. The A78 between Skelmorlie and Largs is closed in both directions due to flooding. There is heavy flooding on the A82 on Loch Lomond-side.

Flights: Normal services from major airports.

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