Storm Arwen: 80,000 homes without power in Scotland after 100mph winds
Network Rail Scotland
Published: 27/11/2021- 10:25
Updated: 14/02/2023- 11:58
Transport services in Scotland were thrown into chaos and tens of thousands of homes were left without power as Storm Arwen battered parts of the country.
The Met Office issued a rare red weather alert for wind from Friday at 3pm until 2am on Saturday, warning some parts of the country could see gusts reaching 80mph to 90mph.
An amber weather warning for wind remained in place for the Highlands, Central Belt, including Edinburgh, Grampian and Orkney and Shetland until 9am on Saturday.
Police warned people not to travel “under any circumstances” in areas covered by the red warning.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) confirmed that as of 10pm on Friday, 80,000 homes had lost power, mainly in Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perthshire and the Moray coast.
The firm has restored power to more than 30,000 homes, but warned the weather was severely hampering its work.
On Friday night, Mark Rough, director of customer operations at SSEN, said: “Storm Arwen has brought some of the most severe and challenging weather we have experienced in recent years, resulting in significant disruption across the north of Scotland.
“Despite detailed preparations, the prolonged and severe nature of the weather front has hampered efforts to restore supplies, with the high winds expected to continue until the early hours of the morning.
“We therefore expect many customers to remain without power into tomorrow, particularly in the Aberdeenshire area.”
Network Rail Scotland (NRS) confirmed services in the north from Aberdeen to Inverness and Aberdeen to Dundee had to be closed on Friday night due to trees and debris on the lines.
The east coast line between Edinburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed and the North Berwick line have also had to close due to the extreme weather.
On Friday evening Karl Grewar, head of integrated control at NRS, said the lines were closed for safety reasons and will not reopen “until it is safe to do so”.
“We will be doing everything we can to open the lines as soon as we’re able to get people moving,” he said.
Photos on social media showed significant damage caused by the high winds in the north east town of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire.
One picture showed an entire garage roof that had blown off and hit the side of a nearby house.
CalMac Ferries confirmed multiple services had to be cancelled due to the extreme wind causing dangerous sailing conditions at sea.
Part of the A1 in East Lothian, between Haddington and the Thistly Cross roundabout, had to close because of 84mph winds forecast for Friday evening.
The closure led to major delays in the area with motorists having to wait up to 45 minutes in queues.
Travel watchdog Traffic Scotland reported multiple trees falling on the A9 causing road blockages, and confirmed the A86 had to close due to the extreme weather.
Superintendent Simon Bradshaw, from Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit, said motorists in the areas affected by the red weather warning “should not travel under any circumstances” and added those in amber and yellow warning zones should “not journey out unless for essential purposes and if you are doing so, to be mindful of the challenging conditions you will face”.
The red warning stretched along the east coast from Middlesbrough to beyond Aberdeen and is the first maximum alert to be issued since Storm Dennis in February 2020.
Yellow warnings for wind were also issued in Ireland, where a man died after a tree fell on his car in Antrim on Friday.
Grahame Madge, a Met Office spokesman, said the forecaster did not “issue red warnings lightly” and warned people to stay away from the affected areas.
The warning, which is the highest the Met Office issues, means the impact is likely to be severe with the potential for damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down.
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The decision by the Met Office to issue a rare red weather warning for strong winds signals a potentially damaging and dangerous risk to life in some areas of Scotland.
“People in these affected areas should not travel under any circumstances, including motorists.”
He added: “The Scottish Government is in close contact with local authorities and the emergency services to ensure people in the affected areas receive the latest information, advice and support where needed.”