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Thousands of homes without power as Storm Caroline rages

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More than 18,000 homes were left without power at some stage as Storm Caroline raged across the north.

Along with winds gusting at 100mph in Shetland, the storm yesterday brought snow and ice, with a warning from the Met Office still in place until 6pm tonight. (sat)

Gale-force winds battered the north of Scotland, tracking slowly across the region from west to east throughout the course of yesterday since Thursday.

The main areas affected were the Western Isles, north-west Highlands, Caithness, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Orkney and Shetland, with the highest wind gusts of more than 100mph recorded at Gremista, Shetland.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) reconnected power to more than 18,000 homes as the storm hit throughout yesterday and Thursday.

Shetland’s MCA helicopter took engineers from Kirkwall to North Ronaldsay yesterday to help restore power after households on the island were without electricity for two days.

Dale Cargill, director of customer operations at SSEN, said: “Our network generally stood up well to Storm Caroline and I would like to thank all our customers who experienced a power cut for their patience as we battled against the elements to restore their power.

“I would also like to thank our teams for working so hard to get the lights back on for our customers in extremely challenging conditions and place on the record our gratitude to all our resilience partners for their support throughout the event, particularly HM Coastguard who helped us overcome the challenge of getting additional crews to the Orkney island of North Ronaldsay.

“We have now returned to business as usual but we will continue to monitor conditions and are well prepared to respond to whatever other challenges the Scottish weather has in store for us this winter.”

Chaos continued on the roads, with cars sliding off untreated B-roads. The A9 was closed briefly at Carrbridge yesterday morning when a lorry became stuck in the snow at the central reservation.

The Met Office reported almost 5ins of snow falling at Tulloch Bridge in Inverness, 3.5ins at Aviemore and 0.7 ins at Dyce. Temperatures were lowest at Dalwhinnie, where -2.9oC was recorded at 3am. By 9am it had reached -1.9oC at Dalwhinnie and at Aviemore it was -1.3oC.

Oli Claydon, Met Office spokesman, said: “It will turn more settled on Satuday with winds dying down. Sunday will be generally dry but there will still be some showers around coastal areas.”

All schools in Orkney and Shetland remained closed and Highland Council reported a total of 46 schools and 22 nurseries closed as a result of the weather yesterday.

Scotrail Alliance said that train services were beginning to resume as normal, however there was still disruption on the routes from Inverness to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

All Serco Northlink Ferries to Orkney and Shetland were cancelled yesterday.

CalMac was forced to cancel sailings from Oban to Colonsay, Islay and Barra. Also off were the Mallaig to Lochboisdale and Oban and the Ullapool to Stornoway sailings.

Passengers who had been stranded at sea in Scapa Flow overnight  aboard Hamnavoe after it was unable to dock in extreme conditions were finally set ashore just after 9am.

The ferry had been involved in a “light contact” with Northern Lighthouse Board vessel Pole Star as she tried to berth in Stormness on Thursday.

Stuart Garrett, managing director at Serco Northlink Ferries said: “Our Pentland Firth vessel MV Hamnavoe docked safely into Stromness, Orkney this morning (Friday) at 9.16am. I’d like to thank our passengers for their patience during yesterday’s severe weather, and praise the crew for their professionalism and hard work throughout the sailing.”

An early avalanche warning has been issued to walkers and climbers tempted onto Scotland’s mountains this weekend.

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) said high ground in the Highlands was expected to have the greatest amounts of snow.

SAIS said while there was a “mostly thin cover” of snow in the mountains there was potential for avalanches in sheltered areas – which are usually above 2,624.8ft.