Severe gales have caused travel disruption, building evacuations and power outages across the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Aberdeenshire.
Following “disruptive and damaging wind gusts” of up to 120mph tearing across the north and north-east today, residents are being warned to take care.
Services have been disrupted across all public transport and some airports, many buildings have suffered damage and roads have been blocked by fallen trees.
Thousands of homes have also lost power and schools across the Highlands and Aberdeenshire have been shut.
Power and water outages across Aberdeenshire and Moray
The disruption comes amid a yellow warning across Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands and Islands.
The warning, which was initially due to end at 3pm today, was cancelled around 12pm. However, another yellow weather warning of snow and ice is in place from 11pm today.
SSEN released a statement on their website, saying these outages were due to Storm Otto and they were experiencing a “higher number of faults than normal”.
More than 35,000 homes were reconnected to the network by 9pm, however, around 7,600 properties remain without electricity supply.
SSEN has set up emergency welfare vans in the areas across Aberdeenshire most affected as they warned some customers could be without power for up to 48 hours.
These include stations in Aberchirder, Craigievar School, Cruden Bay, Daviot Village, Huntly, Insch, Maud and Mintlaw.
GP practices in those locations have also been affected by the power outages and are operating on an emergency service only basis.
Meanwhile, residents across the north and north-east – including Ellon, Kinloss and Inverness – have been left with no water as a result nearby power outages.
Scottish Water said 20 pumping stations lost mains power across the water network initially, and supply has so far been restored to 19 of these.
#StormOtto update – Our teams have been working to maintain and restore water supplies today for customers in #Aberdeenshire and #Moray where the electricity network has been affected overnight and throughout today by the impacts of Storm Otto. https://t.co/cLhT1wHD5y
— Scottish Water (@scottish_water) February 17, 2023
Mobile generators are in place to support the restoration of supplies and a generator is being deployed at the one remaining site.
Where water supplies have been disrupted, customers are being advised they may experience low intermittent pressure or discoloured water while the network recovers.
Scottish Water’s water network operations manager John Griffen said: “Our local teams have been working overnight and throughout the day to respond to the impacts of Storm Otto on our infrastructure.
“As a result of preparations in advance of the storm hitting, water supplies have been maintained to the great majority of customers. Our focus remains on restoring normal service to all customers via the water network as quickly as possible.”
NesCol evacuated following storm damage
North East Scotland College (NesCol) campus in Aberdeen was evacuated this morning after the building was damaged by the strong winds.
Police closed off the nearby Gallowgate and Spring Gardens while emergency services were in attendance to secure an unsafe section of the roof.
A spokesperson for NesCol said: “Weather related damage to the roof at our Aberdeen city campus has been reported. High winds make inspection unsafe at this time.
“The city campus will close immediately to ensure the health and safety of students, staff, visitors and the public.
“All those on campus have been asked to make an orderly exit from the Loch Street doors and follow the advice of staff and emergency services.
“Surrounding roads will be closed as a precaution.”
The gusty conditions also caused scaffolding to fall from a high rise building at Elphinstone Court in Aberdeen. Fire crews attended to help make the area safe.
Esso MFG petrol station in Mintlaw has been closed after panels fell from the roof of the garage. A man was injured by flying debris at the station and was taken to hospital.
In Elgin, Chanonry recycling centre has closed due to safety concerns and Buckie High School has shut after suffering building damage.
Findhorn West and East Beach picnic benches in Moray have also been destroyed by the strong gusts with some being tipped upside down.
Household recycling centres in Aberdeenshire have been closed.
These include those in Inverurie, Ellon, Stonehaven, Portlethen, Turriff, Macduff, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Huntly, Alford, Banchory.
Household waste collections in Aberdeenshire have also been affected in Mintlaw, Inverurie, Banchory, Stonehaven and Macduff.
Cancelled flights and fallen trees on many roads
High winds cancelled many flights from Aberdeen International Airport this morning and several journeys were delayed or cancelled from Kirkwall Airport.
Passengers at Inverness Airport also faced delays but all airports are now operating as usual.
Gusts recorded over 100mph on summit weather stations in the Highlands this morning, including a peak of 120mph reported on Cairn Gorm. Lowland gusts 70-80mph in northeast Scotland, locally 70mph+ east of the Pennines too. The satellite image shows Storm Otto over the North Sea. pic.twitter.com/T8MqREmfLr
— Mountain Weather (@the_MWIS) February 17, 2023
Severe gales across most of the country, with gusts of 120mph being recorded on Cairn Gorm, closed Dornoch Bridge on the A9 Inverness to Wick road to high-sided vehicles.
Several Highlands roads were partially blocked by overhanging branches and fallen trees in Sutherland, Marybank, Sallachy, Plockton and Aultbea.
The A947 between Macduff and Turriff and the B972 Pass of Ballater were closed for a period of time due to fallen trees.
Aberdeenshire Council created a map of all the ongoing road closures in the area due to the storm and encouraging people to call 101 in cases of any storm-related emergencies.
Trains suspended and buses cancelled
Stagecoach Bluebird services have been suspended or face delays as a result.
The 35 service from Macduff to Aberdeen has been suspended due to fallen trees on the A947.
This follows after a Stagecoach bus was forced off the A90 road between Mintlaw and Fraserburgh by high winds.
There were no passengers on board at the time but the driver was taken to hospital.
Aberdeenshire Council has also said Central Buchan A2B services have been cancelled for the day.
ScotRail services faced delays and cancellations with speed restrictions being implemented earlier today.
Journeys between Aberdeen and Inverness and Inverness to Wick were suspended for the day due fallen trees on the lines.
Affected passengers can use their tickets with Stagecoach North buses between Inverness and Aberdeen and Inverness and Wick in both directions in the meantime.
🌲🌬️Photos from Tain on the Far North Line where a tree has fallen on the railway and brought down some high-voltage power lines today. We’re not able to remove this until SSEN engineers can make the cables safe. We’ll get the line open again as quickly as we can. #StormOtto pic.twitter.com/IbL7x2r4ih
— Network Rail Scotland (@NetworkRailSCOT) February 17, 2023
Many Orkney Ferries services have been cancelled today. These include:
- Rousay/ Egilsay/ Wyre
- Eday/ Sanday/ Stronsay
- Hoy Head
- Pierowall/ Papa Westray
CalMac sailings were also cancelled this morning and those going ahead this afternoon are subject to delays and possible further cancellations.
Another warning of ice and snow to follow
As the day progresses, wind speeds are expected to lessen with showers and bright spells scheduled for the afternoon.
Overnight, rain will fall across much of the country and temperatures will drop.
Inverness will have a chilly start on Saturday with temperatures of around 2C and Aberdeen and Stornoway around 3C.
Good morning. Storm Otto will bring a swathe of disruptive and damaging wind gusts this morning, with Met Office Yellow warnings for high winds in force until mid afternoon. Here is Calum with the latest forecast. pic.twitter.com/goJJWya03n
— BBC Scotland Weather (@BBCScotWeather) February 17, 2023
Another yellow warning of snow and ice has been issued from 11pm tonight across parts of Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands.
Warnings of icy patches and snow on high ground have been issued by the Met Office and is in place until 9am on Saturday, February 18.
Aberdeenshire Council said they will be deploying 18 gritters tonight to help treat priority roads in anticipation of the snowy weather.