West coast bears brunt as Scotland hit by severe weather

Scotland's west coast has borne the brunt of continuing severe weather with gales gusting up to 70mph

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High winds battering the coast are expected to ease tonight as an area of low pressure continues to move across northern parts of the country.

Flood alerts and warnings have been issued in many regions due to high seas and heavy rainfall across the country.

Yellow Met Office ''be aware'' warnings of high winds were in force for the Highlands, Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and Argyll and Bute until 5pm.

The storm peaked between 2pm and 4pm with wind speeds of 70mph recorded in the Outer Hebrides at South Uist and Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

The village of Aultbea in Wester Ross was buffeted by gusts of 62mph and Inverbervie in Aberdeenshire was hit by winds of between 50mph and 60mph.

Flood alerts - warning of the possibility of flooding - will remain in force overnight for coastal areas in the north and west.

Gales and large waves could result in flooding at high tide, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said.

It has also put flood warnings in place for parts of Tayside where flooding is expected due to rivers running high.

Drivers have been urged to take care with the possibility of fallen trees and surface water on the roads.

Rachel Vince, senior forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "It is going to stay windy overnight but we expect gusts to generally be below 60mph in the Western Isles and below 55mph on the mainland and west coast through tonight and tomorrow."

Stormy conditions caused widespread disruption throughout the country yesterday.

A wind speed of 66mph was recorded at Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway and on higher ground gusts reached 111mph at Tomintoul in the Cairngorms National Park.

Christmas attractions in the capital, including the Big Wheel in Princes Street Gardens, were temporarily closed and several football fixtures were called off.

Passengers at Edinburgh Airport faced disruption to flights, while flooding and problems with overhead wires affected some ScotRail lines and many Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services on the west coast were cancelled or delayed.

At the height of the storm the Forth, Tay and Skye road bridges were closed to high sided vehicles.

This weekend's severe weather comes in the wake of a storm that battered the country with winds of up to 142mph earlier this month.

A lorry driver died, thousands of homes were left without power and commuters faced major travel disruption on December 5.

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