8 Dec 2011

Britain braced for 100mph gales

Scotland closes schools and the Met Office issues a red alert after warnings that the country will be battered by gale force winds today.

Britain braced for 100mph gales (getty)

Ministers have urged councils in west, central and southern Scotland to close schools following advice from police and the Met Office.

Scotland will be worst affected, but forecasters said other areas of the UK could also be hit by strong winds.

Gusts of up to 70mph are expected in northern England and north west Wales, while central England and East Anglia are expected to be hit by winds of up to 60 mph.

The Met Office issued its highest ‘red alert’ warning for winds of at least 75mph in Scotland this afternoon between 3pm and 6pm today.

Key travel routes across the country are likely to be closed and depending on the severity of the gales, police are prepared to advise against all travel, the Scottish Government said.

Read more: Channel 4 News Weather Presenter Liam Dutton predicts a storm

Scotland was hit by snow this morning, but forecasters say it will quickly be followed by heavy rain that will spread south during the day, and stormy conditions are expected later on.

The Scottish government’s resilience committee met last night and the government said the high level of the travel warning was “unprecedented for high wind situations”.

Travel warning

Assistant Chief Constable Allan Moffatt from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland) said it was likely that some or all of the major bridges would be closed, which would inevitably cause disruption on major routes.

“The predicted impact of the wind is such that it may cause structural damage and is a specific danger to high-sided road vehicles,” he said. “By travelling, motorists may be putting themselves at serious risk, such is the severity of the forecast conditions.”

East Coast, which operates a London to Scotland train service, will run half the usual number of north-bound trains from Newcastle today because of anticipated speed restrictions as a result of the high winds.

An East Coast spokesman said last night: “Our priority is to operate as normal service as possible for our customers given the severe weather forecast.”