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Storms leave 800 Scots homes with no power for Christmas

AROUND 800 homes in Scotland were left without power on Christmas Day after gale-force winds wreaked havoc in the north of the country.

Some 3500 homes lost electricity during storms on Christmas Eve and around 800 were still without power yesterday afternoon. Residents in Banchory, Buchan and Aboyne in Aberdeenshire and Forres and Fochabers in Elgin were worst affected.

It came after gusts of up to 82mph buffeted Peterhead on Christmas Eve, while the rest of the country was lashed with winds of 50-60mph, causing Christmas attractions in Edinburgh to temporarily close.

Meanwhile, Stornoway recorded the UK's lowest air pressure in 127 years on Christmas Eve when barometer readings plunged to 936hPa amid winds close to 80mph.

Christmas travel plans were also disrupted for hundreds of people, with ferries and flights cancelled.

In a Christmas Day first, Caledonian MacBrayne ran special sailings to the Western Isles in a bid to get stranded travellers home to their families. However, the crossing to North Uist and Orkney remained cancelled due to bad weather.

Many flood warnings remain in place, particularly for Tayside where river levels have been high.

Forecaster Ben Windsor said winds were dying down in most parts, although the Met Office predicts that conditions will begin deteriorating again tonight.

He added: "There was some snow on higher ground yesterday but it's only really a white Christmas on the mountain tops where the rain begins to turn to snow at 300 metres and above."

The high winds on Christmas Eve also ripped off a portion of the roof at Thurso High School in Caithness, damaging two vehicles. Part of an empty building in Linkwood Road, Elgin, was damaged in a separate incident, with three families evacuated from nearby houses as part of the structure collapsed on to the road.

At the other end of the country, fallen trees and debris caused problems on some roads in the Borders, with a mudslide temporarily closing the A7.

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