People in the north were battening down the hatches last night as they prepared for Storm Gertrude to batter the region with 100mph winds, rain and snow.
All schools in the Western Isles and Shetland will be closed today and travel chaos is forecast across the region.
The Met Office has an amber warning in place for wind today, and has urged people to brace themselves for possible structural damage to buildings and damage to power supplies.
A yellow warning for wind and snow has been issued for Saturday, with yet another wind warning in place for Monday.
ScotRail has introduced an emergency timetable with some services cancelled, including the far north line, and ferries will also be affected.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said last night: “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.”
Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) was on yellow alert.
A spokesman said: “Our weather models anticipate wind speeds in excess of 100mph across Orkney and Shetland and winds over 90mph in the Western Isles, Skye and north-west Highlands.
“All other parts of our network area will see winds reach 70mph-80mph.
“We have 400 frontline and support staff standing by and we have moved engineers to the areas we expect to be hit by the storm, including the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.
“Mobile generators and other resources are also being moved.”
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.”
Ferry firm CalMac is warning people to think about their journey before travelling.
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.”
Shetland Islands Council said Shetland College, all youth clubs and The Eric Gray Resource Centre would be closed for the day.
Western Isles Council said no bus services would run before noon today.
A spokesman said: “Appropriate arrangements are being made for all those who receive home care services.”
Many council buildings were due to open late and the spokesman warned: “All services are subject to further disruption.”