Government issues red weather alert

Published Date: 

7 Dec 2011 - 15:46

The Met Office has warned that major travel disruption is likely across much of Central Scotland tomorrow afternoon due to strong winds of 75-80 miles per hour and potential gusts of up to 90mph.

 

A red warning has been issued by the Met Office for Central, Tayside, Fife, Strathclyde, south west Scotland and Lothian and Borders.

 

Such warnings are only issued, on average, once or twice a year.

 

With such severe weather forecast, Transport Scotland is urging people to pay attention to police travel warnings. Police advise that conditions for travel between 3pm and 6pm are likely to be extremely poor and significant delays are expected.

 

This could lead to all main road bridges being closed and will have a severe impact on tomorrow night's rush hour. Disruption to power supplies and property is also a strong possibility.

 

Transport Minister Keith Brown is this afternoon taking part in a meeting of the Scottish Government's Resilience Room. Transport Scotland's Multi-Agency Response Team will continue to operate for the remainder of the week.

 

Transport Minister Keith Brown said:"Tomorrow looks set to be a major challenge for our transport system, commuters and the public.

 

“I can assure them that a lot of work is already underway to ensure Scotland is prepared for any likely transport disruption caused by severe winds. The Scottish Government's Resilience Room is closely monitoring developments as is Transport Scotland's Multi-Agency Response Team.

 

“We are in regular contact with the Met Office, the police, operating companies, power suppliers and other authorities and agencies to ensure everything that can be done is being done. Transport Scotland have also held a separate conference call with the 'Extreme Weather Action Team' to discuss likely impact on the rail network where one of the main threats is debris being blown onto the railway and speed restrictions after the morning rush hour which will have an impact on timetables.

 

"Potentially many of our main road bridges could be closed at some point tomorrow afternoon. According to the Met Office the worst period will be from 3-6pm and they are confident that wind speeds will exceed 75mph. They have issued a red alert, which suggest speeds could even exceed 90mph. As well as possible bridge closures we need to prepare for blown over vehicles and trees.

 

"Transport Scotland's high winds strategy sets out critical wind speed thresholds which dictate when certain vehicles, and eventually all vehicles, might be banned from using bridges. Actions that can be taken include 'warning' of high winds; 'segregation' of high sided vehicles and the full closure of a bridge. This involves careful management and monitoring that ensure safety is maintained at all times while minimising potential impact on traffic as far as possible.

 

"Operating companies and hauliers are liaising with local authorities and the police in terms of the impact and likelihood of implementing standard incident diversion routes. Traffic management crews stand ready and traffic management equipment for full bridge closures will be in place for the worst case scenario. Landscaping and cutting crews will be available to deal with the aftermath of the high winds and resources in place to quickly undertake structural inspections if required.

 

"The initial high winds are expected to peak tomorrow  afternoon into the evening, so commuters are advised that if they can leave work earlier or work from home that would be a very sensible step to help avoid possible rush-hour delays. We are all working hard to keep Scotland moving and I urge everyone to allow extra time for travel, avoid unnecessary risks and keep checking websites and local radio for real-time information".

 

For more information on disruption to services in Argyll and Bute, please go to http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/service-disruptions

 

For full details of the weather warning, go to http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/uk_forecast_warnings.html