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Trees uprooted, power lines snapped and homes in blackout… Arctic winds hit the north

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A Coastguard team was drafted in yesterday to protect islanders on the anniversary of a vicious storm that claimed the lives of five members of the same family.

At the request of police, 10 Stornoway personnel monitored the high tide at causeways between Benbecula and the Uists as a precaution as 77mph winds blasted the Western Isles. Their role was to gauge whether roads should close.

Exactly 12 years after the tragedy that killed Archie and Murdina Macpherson, their children Hannah, five, and Andrew, seven, and Mrs Macpherson’s father Calum Campbell, Stornoway crew members took to cars to patrol known danger spots as a fresh storm battered much of the north.

The relatives died when they were engulfed by waves while crossing a South Uist causeway to escape the 2005 hurricane. A promised bridge to improve safety is still to materialise.

Mainland winds peaked at 112mph yesterday. Trees were uprooted, power lines snapped and hundreds of properties were blacked out.

Gales and driving rain and snow brought travel chaos for many. Several flights and many ferry sailings were cancelled or delayed.

In the midst of the storm, Oban Lifeboat braved rough seas to safely evacuate a casualty suffering from a life-threatening illness from the isle of Mull.

The highest rating “yellow” wind and snow warning was issued by forecasters for the whole of north.

Gales brought trees down at Clash Wood near Muir of Ord and at Edderton. Fencing at a new housing development in Boat of Garten was ripped apart.

Snow drifts formed in a whiteout at Glenmore in the Cairngorms. The day’s strongest gust of wind registered 112mph on Cairn Gorm.

Pupils at several north schools enjoyed a bonus day off and about 600 Highland properties lost power, for which SSE apologised.

KLM’s daily Inverness-Amsterdam flight was cancelled while 25 of CalMac’s 26 daily crossings were affected to some degree by tyhe wind with 20 sailings cancelled. Orkney Ferries also amended schedules and all Northlink sailings on the Pentland Firth route were cancelled for the day.

ScotRail has altered some of its services today and is asking passengers heading to or from the north to check before they set out.

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