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Many Scottish schools closed tomorrow as Storm Gertrude approaches

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Schools will be closed across the Highlands and Islands tomorrow as Storm Gertrude takes hold.

With gusts of up to 80mph expected, all schools in the Western Isles will be closed for the day.

In Shetland, the following schools will be closed: Aith Junior High, Brae High nursery department, Happyhansel Primary, Sandness Primary, Skeld Primary.

The Met Office has issued Amber (be prepared) weather warnings with gale force winds and rain expected across large parts of Scotland tonight and tomorrow morning.

Disruption to transport is expected across all modes during the peak period on Friday morning. Scotrail has introduced an emergency timetable with some services cancelled and ferries will also be affected.

There is also a yellow warning for snow and ice going into Saturday with wintry showers expected to be heaviest north of the central belt.

Scottish Ministers are receiving regular updates on the severe weather. The resilience (SGoR) team met this afternoon and is in regular contact to discuss prevention and response activity with responder organisations across the country, including those areas affected by yesterday’s heavy rain.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: “We are expecting some very difficult weather conditions tomorrow morning. Winds of this severity bring a high risk of disruption, leading to cancelled ferries, train services and restrictions or closures on bridges. The gale force winds will also make high-sided vehicles particularly prone to being blown over.

“We are in regular contact with the transport operators regarding the situation. They do not take the decision to cancel services lightly but safety is paramount.

“Everything possible is being done to try to mitigate the impact of the conditions with experts working alongside each other at our Traffic Scotland National Control Centre.

“Before heading out, people need to consider the conditions. They should listen to radio reports, visit the Traffic Scotland website or twitter feed and take note of the latest police advice.”

Environment Minister Aileen McLeod is encouraging people to remain vigilant: “Members of the public should remain alert to the threat of wintry weather and further flooding across certain parts of the country. Further rain and snow is forecast over the weekend so I would urge everyone to take the necessary steps to stay safe and keep up to date with the latest flood and weather information.

“The Scottish Government resilience committee met again today to help coordinate and support local efforts to prepare for this additional rain, and we will continue to monitor the situation carefully.”

Phil Verster, ScotRail Alliance managing director, said: “We will be withdrawing some services until the worst of the storm has passed.

“The safety of our passengers and workforce is our top priority and we cannot run services on these lines until our engineers have thoroughly inspected the network for any damage.

“In order to get the most up to date information about their journey, customers should check our website or app before setting out to travel. Leaving more time for travel is also advised.

“We will be monitoring the weather conditions closely throughout the day and have specialist teams ready to deploy quickly to deal with any issues caused by the storm.

“We are also working closely with our industry partners to reduce disruption as much as possible while also operating a safe network for passengers.”

Clyde and Hebrides ferry operator CalMac is warning people to think about their journey before travelling. Their operations director, Drew Collier said: “Yet again this winter we are in a position where the weather is likely to bring extensive disruption to service across the Clyde and Hebrides routes over the course of the week. People should look at the forecast carefully before travelling and check their arrangements if they plan to travel with us.

“The website and our social media feeds have the very latest information on what is likely to be running and when. We will do all we can do keep services running when the weather allows.”

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