In Brief

UK storm: Rail services cancelled due to hurricane force gales

Scotland faces widespread disruption as winds of up to 140mph leave thousands of homes without power

Hurricane force winds have caused severe travel disruption across Scotland, with the majority of rail services cancelled.

Met Office warnings for wind and rain remain in place as the first big storm of the year sweeps across Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England.

"Due to the severity of the overnight storm, All ScotRail services are currently suspended to allow Network Rail to check the lines are safe for trains to run," a spokesperson from the rail company told STV.

Some of the least affected train lines have gradually begun reopening, but the vast majority remain suspended, according to ScotRail. They are expected to remain closed until at least 10am, with disruption predicted to continue throughout the day. 

Gales of up to 140mph also left more than 70,000 homes without power in the Highlands and schools in the Western Isles and Orkney have been closed as a precaution.

Scottish Hydro Power said extra engineers and customer service staff were on duty to deal with the problem. "We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience this is causing and thank them for their patience," a spokesperson said.

The Forth Road Bridge was closed overnight due to an overturned van, while in England Cumbria police reported that a lorry had been blown over on the M6. Scottish fire services are reportedly dealing with a number of buildings damaged by fallen trees and flying debris.

The AA has warned drivers about treacherous driving conditions in Scotland, advising high-sided vehicles against non-essential travel.

Passengers requiring CalMac and NorthLink ferry services are also facing severe disruption and cancellations.

The severe weather was brought by an unusually powerful Atlantic jet stream triggered by cold air from the northern US meeting warmer air from the south.

Winds are expected to die down on Friday, but a second depression is expected overnight, bringing more winds and snow on Saturday, according to the BBC.

For more information about train services and ticket refunds, customers are advised to check for updates with ScotRail.

UK storm: gale force winds and rain to batter Britain

08 January 

The Met office has warned that severe weather is expected to disrupt transport and power networks as a powerful Atlantic jet stream brings two separate storms to the UK.

Winds of between 80 and 100mph are expected to reach Scotland and some parts of Northern England, while places further south will see gusts of up to 70mph.

The Met Office warns that the high winds caused by two "vigorous depressions" will be strong enough to uproot trees and damage power lines, with major disruption to travel in Scotland likely. As a precaution, Network Rail has closed some of the most exposed Scottish rail lines.

"The public should be prepared for disruption to transport as well as power supplies and the possibility of structural damage," a spokesperson told The Scotsman. He also warned that extremely large waves could lead to dangerous conditions along some coasts.

The unusually strong jet stream was triggered when freezing air from the northern US met warmer air from the south. The severe weather is expected to last until Saturday, according to the BBC.

"If you have no choice but to drive, keep your speed down as sudden gusts can catch you out and there is a risk of debris on the roads," warned John Seymour, national manager of the AA's severe weather team.

Despite the storms, temperatures are expected to be exceptionally mild for this time of year, reaching up to 15 degrees.

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