Scotland lashed by monster storm
Scotland was battered by winds of more than 150 miles an hour Thursday as a monster storm swept in, causing widespread travel chaos and leaving thousands of homes without electricity.
Authorities ordered the closure of thousands of schools and motorists were advised not to drive across central areas as Britain's first major storm of the winter arrived in spectacular fashion.
"People could be putting themselves at considerable risk by travelling in these conditions," warned Assistant Chief Constable Allan Moffat of Central Scotland police.
The Met Office forecasting service issued a "red alert", their highest warning, as the storm tore across Scotland.
Many train services and ferries to islands off the western coast were cancelled and every major bridge in Scotland was closed. A small number of flights to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports were axed.
Gale-force winds churned up the sea along the coast and rivers burst their banks, sparking floods and adding to the mayhem for motorists.
A top wind speed of 151 miles per hour (243 kilometres an hour) was recorded in the Cairngorm mountains in the eastern Highlands, the Met Office said. Central Scotland was lashed by winds of up to 85 mph.
In the western Argyll region and in the Western Isles, off the northeast coast, thousands of people were left without electricity, a spokesman for supplier Scottish Hydro said.
Some 500 staff were working to restore electricity but the storm was hampering their efforts.
"With 100 mile per hour winds, it's very dangerous for engineers to climb electricity poles," the spokeswoman told AFP.
There were accidents across the country, although no serious injuries were reported. A school bus overturned in Dalry, in the west, but only the driver was onboard.
A lorry blew over in the Highlands and a large tree smashed into a car in Fife, eastern Scotland, but there were no injuries.
Scotland bore the brunt of the bad weather, but England was also hit.
In Cumbria, northwest England, heavy rain caused flooding, with road closures and reports of vehicles stuck in water.
© 2011 AFP