School pupils in Orkney are being sent home early over fears deteriorating weather conditions could leave them stranded.
The north is being battered by high winds and crashing waves today as wind speeds exceed 40mph.
Power cuts have also been reported in Orkney, on Papa Westray, and on the mainland in Thurso and Wick.
More than 400 homes are affected by the outages, with SSEN warning the disruption could last until 10pm.
Met Office forecasters are predicting wind speeds in parts of Orkney will reach highs of 47mph this afternoon.
St Margaret’s Hope, on the isle of South Ronaldsay, is set to experience wind speeds of 47mph this afternoon, before intensifying to 60mph by 8pm.
The Churchill Barriers remain open at this time.
15 November 2022 at 17:00: The barriers are OPEN. Drivers should take care when crossing.
— OIC Roads (@OIC_Roads) November 15, 2022
However, council workers are continuing to monitor conditions along the causeway every hour.
Drivers are being warned to take care when crossing.
Pupils sent home to beat the worst of the weather
In light of the conditions, Orkney Islands Council has made arrangements to send pupils, who rely on the route, to leave school early.
Meanwhile, pupils who have alternative arrangements for accommodation may stay to complete school.
In a statement, posted on social media, they wrote: “Due to worsening weather conditions, arrangements have been made to send pupils who have to cross the Churchill Barriers home this morning.”
What are the Churchill Barriers?
The Churchill Barriers serve as a vital link between island communities in Orkney.
Construction on the barriers began in May 1945 following the sinking of HMS Royal Oak
In October 1939, a German U-boat crawled into Scapa Flow before firing torpedos at the ship; killing 834 people.
The causeway is a lifeline link in keeping the isles of Lamb Holm, Glimps Holm, Burray and South Ronaldsay connected with the mainland.