LONDON (AFP) – Hurricane force winds left tens of thousands of Scottish homes without electricity on Saturday with conditions expected to worsen over the weekend.
Trees were uprooted and train and ferry services disrupted as winds of up to 181 km/h battered the Highlands and islands of Scotland.
Around 100,000 were left without power at one point, but Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) said they had restored power to 73,000 homes despite difficult conditions.
“Our electricity network was battered continuously by hurricane winds for eight hours on Thursday night and during much of Friday,” explained Alan Broadbent, Director of Engineering.
“This has weakened it in places, which caused more power cuts overnight.”
ScotRail temporarily suspended all train services over safety reasons on Friday and ferries were cancelled.
The disruption is expected to spread south to England as a new wave of wintry weather sweeps in.
“Another low pressure system is just tracking to North West Scotland bringing winds across the area of 50-60mph and causing gusts of up to 80mph,” said Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge.
“And off the back of that there are areas that are still trying to restore power. Conditions for climbing up poles are not ideal when you have 60mph winds. And it will be generally windy across the UK.”
Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England were warned to be prepared for sleet and snow overnight Saturday.
Meanwhile, coastguards in Brighton, southern England, called off the search for two men lost at sea after entering the water during a night out.
“The conditions for searching overnight were awful – it was pitch black and the sea was extremely choppy. It was very difficult to search,” said a spokesman.
“Very sadly, nothing has been found and it is very unlikely that anything will be.
“This has turned into a recovery mission. Very sadly there is no chance of finding them alive,” he added.