Storm Caroline has smashed into Britain today, bringing eight inches of snow, gale force 90mph winds and plunging temperatures that will batter the country for three days.
Met Office forecasters have warned of a threat to life and ‘devastating’ winds, with an amber be prepared weather warning for northern Scotland today, and yellow warnings for the rest of the country.
Thousands of homeowners are being urged to take precautionary measures amid power cuts, while there is commuter chaos with rail services and ferries cancelled, bridges and roads closed and dangerous flying debris.
Sleet and snow showers are working their way across Britain with snowfall of up to 20cm on Friday across Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the north. More snow is expected on Saturday and Sunday.
Temperatures are set to drop by up to 10C in 24 hours with lows of -3C (26F) in the north and -1C (30F) in the South today, with a wind chill factor of around -5C (23F) in the South and -16C (3F) in some northern regions. Some parts of Scotland could even fall as low as -8C (17F).
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Sleet and snow showers are working their way across Britain, with a yellow severe weather warning for snow and ice on Friday. Pictured, walkers wrap up against a blizzard in the Cairngorm National park as wind hit 120mph
A Flybe aircraft struggled to land in strong winds at Britain’s highest airport, Leeds Bradford International this morning
There was stormy weather in Porthcawl, South Wales this morning. Strong northwesterly winds will bring snow showers into Wales by the evening
Hardened surfers have braved the storm and battled the waves at Aberdeen beach in Scotland, where gusts of up to 80mph have been recorded
This graphic shows the temperature across the country as well as the wind speed, precipitation and air pressure as Storm Caroline sweeps across the UK. It also shows how the UK compares to other countries on the continent
ScotRail took to social media this morning to warn commuters that rail services were disrupted after a trampoline blew was blown on the tracks
- Yellow warning of wind for Shetland and Orkney 5am-11.55pm.
Gusts of 70-80 mph with disruption to air and ferry transport and loss of power.
- Yellow warning of snow and ice for Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, northwest England, Central and southwest England midnight-6pm Saturday.
Frequent snow showers with 2-5 cm of snow likely widely, and 10-20 cm in northern Scotland, Northern Ireland, north Wales and northwest Midlands.
Possible travel delays on roads and cancellations to rail and air travel.
Some rural communities could be cut off and power supplies interrupted.
- Yellow warning of snow and ice for Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, northwest England, Central and southwest England throughout the day.
- Yellow warning of snow for Northern Ireland, southern Scotland and England and Wales, 4am-11.55pm.
Heavy snow possible over central parts of the UK leading to road, rail and air travel delays and cancellations. Rural communities with limited access routes could become cut off.
The strong wind warning is set to last from 6am until 11.55pm today, with an amber warning for northern Scotland.
A yellow ‘be aware’ warning is in force for the southern half of Scotland and parts of the north of Northern Ireland between 6am and 6pm as well.
The Met Office has warned of flying debris that could lead to injuries or danger to life, while damage to property is also possible.
Rail passengers have faced disruption with services delayed across the UK and a trampoline which blew onto the line in East Renfrewshire.
Train services between Glasgow Central and Neilston were cancelled or delayed while staff removed the obstacle.
The line reopened after the trampoline was removed and services began returning to normal.
All schools and nurseries in Lewis, Harris and Uist in the Western Isles are closed to pupils today as a precaution while 31 primary schools, five secondary schools and 19 nurseries in the Highland Council area and two schools in Aberdeenshire are shut.
And all schools in the Shetland Islands will close at 1pm today and remain closed throughout Friday.
Waves measuring more than 33 feet feet high whipped up by Storm Caroline have been recorded off the Outer Hebrides today.
The super-sized waves are more than twice the height of a double decker bus.
They reached 33.8 feet at 7am far off the Western Isles in the North Atlantic by a buoy called K5, which gathers data on the movement of the sea.
About 2,000 Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks customers in the Western Isles and about 270 in Aberdeenshire were left without power but have since been reconnected.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said power has been safely restored to more than 3,900 customers, mainly on the Western Isles and north-west Highlands, with about 780 homes without power as of 12pm on Thursday.
However, SSEN said the full impact of Storm Caroline has not yet been felt across much of its network and it is expected there will be further faults throughout Thursday.
SSEN said wind gusts in excess of 85mph were recorded in the Western Isles while Mountaineering Scotland tweeted that a gust of 116mph was recorded on Cairngorm.
A 73mph gust was recorded at Stornoway Airport while a 69mph gust was measured at Altnaharra in Sutherland and 68mph in South Uist on Thursday morning, the Met Office said.
Fisherman Vojta Veszpremi attached his four-year-old son Tobias to a nylon rope to stop him being blown away by Storm Caroline in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. He said: ‘I wanted to show Tobias some waves and make sure the storm would not blow him away or that we would get hurt by flying debris’
A snowplough in a blizzard in the Cairngorm National park. A yellow ‘be aware’ warning is in force for the southern half of Scotland
Dog walkers braced themselves as they faced strong winds which were whipping up the sand on Tynemouth beach
Many huddled under umbrellas and wrapped up warm as Cambridge saw wet and windy weather
Christmas shoppers and tourists in Cambridge dodged the puddles today as Storm Caroline hit Britain, bringing strong winds and heavy rain
A trampoline was found in some trees along the roadside on County Durham, after being picked up from a garden by the strong winds
Three tons of hay blew across the busy A14 between Cambridge and Newmarket, causing an hour long hold up and drivers to brake and swerve to avoid crashing into each other. The hay bales fell off a farmer’s lorry, affecting the westbound carriageway between junction 35 and 36
Sleet and snow showers are working their way across Britain, with a yellow severe weather warning for snow and ice across the UK on Friday across Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and and the north of England – with more on the way Sunday
A surfer embraces Storm Caroline at Aberdeen beach this morning, despite the dangerous waves
Up to 20cm of snow could fall across Scotland and 15cm as far south as Birmingham, with temperatures dropping by up to 10C in 24 hours
People making their way to work in Manchester this morning felt the force of the winds lashing the city
This interactive module, which is continuously updated, represents the picture across the UK. It shows high pressure sweeping across the country creating. Generated by a super computer and updated every three hours by the National Weather Service, the graph shows strong winds sweeping across the Atlantic and the Channel. Gales of more than 90mph can be seen directly over coastal areas and the south coast of the country.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks have issued a checklist to help residents in the event of a power cut
Workers on the Forth Bridge putting sandbags on a road sign to weigh down as forecasters warn of strong winds
Train services have been suspended between Aberdeen and Inverness, Inverness and Wick, Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh as well some Glasgow Queen Street routes to the west coast.
Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services between Tarbert and Lochranza, Oban and Tiree via Coll and Ullapool and Stornoway have been cancelled for the rest of the day, while many other routes are facing disruption.
The Forth Road Bridge and Tay Road Bridge are closed to double decker buses while the Skye and Kessock bridges are closed to high sided vehicles.
CalMac ferry passengers have been warned there is a high possibility of disruption to services.
Loganair is offering customers travelling on its flights to and from Benbecula, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Sumburgh the chance to change travel plans.
Three tons of hay blew across the busy A14 between Cambridge and Newmarket, causing an hour long hold up and drivers to brake and swerve to avoid crashing into each other.
Motorists have filmed their perilous commutes to work and one driver captured the moment a huge wave washed over a commuter ferry in Scotland.
Ade Robertson was sailing across the River Clyde with Western Ferries last night when he captured the wave lashing the boat.
Met Office chief meteorologist Steve Ramsdale said: ‘The strongest winds will reach the northwest of Scotland early on Thursday, extending to northeast Scotland and the Northern Isles in the afternoon.
‘During Thursday winds will start to ease in the west with the strongest of the winds becoming confined to the Northern Isles in the evening.’
The Met Office added: ‘Flying debris is likely and could lead to injuries or danger to life. Some damage to buildings is possible, such as tiles blowing off roofs.
‘Large waves are expected and beach material may be thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and properties.’
Scotland’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: ‘With stormy weather expected across the north of Scotland we would urge people to check with their operators before they travel, especially if they are planning a ferry journey.
‘There may also be bridge restrictions, particularly for high-sided vehicles, and we would urge road users to check the latest information on wind thresholds on the Traffic Scotland website to see where this is likely.’
And a North Sea platform has shut down production due to safety fears over weather conditions caused by Storm Caroline.
CNR International said it would remove all of the 159 staff on Ninian South, about 240 miles from Aberdeen, from the structure as a precaution.
CHILDREN RESCUED AS WAVES BATTER SCHOOL BUS
More than 30 youngsters on board a school bus in Orkney had a ‘lucky escape’when it broke down in Storm Caroline
Huge waves broke over a sea wall and battered a school bus carrying children to Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney.
They were rescued by a 4×4 in a dramatic operation and coastguards said it was not clear if the bus had got stuck because of the weather or suffered a mechanical failure.
The 33 children, plus driver, were safely transferred to a Landrover and taken to a harbour authority building after the incident at 11.20am at Scapa Beach Road in Kirkwall.
Kirkwall Lifeboat coxswain Geoff Gardens came across the rescue.
‘In all my years this is the worst weather I have seen for many a day. The children were very lucky,’ said Mr Gardens, 65, a coxswain of a pilot boat.
‘The children were all fine, but the bus was rocking. The waves were breaking over the wall – they were big.
‘It took quite a few runs to get all the kids off – they were calm throughout. It was quite a bad place to break down – but I don’t know if the bus stalled in the weather or by it. The road was very flooded there. It was some rescue.’
All schools in Orkney were closed from 11.30am.
Highways England workers prepare their gritting and snow plough fleet at the A1 Carville Depot near Durham in readiness for the snow
The wintry showers will become more widespread over the next 24 hours, with forecasters also issuing a yellow severe weather warning for snow and ice on Friday
Passengers had a rocky take off at Leeds Bradford Airport, with planes struggling through the wind and rain this morning
Many took to social media wondering if it was worth getting out of bed as the storm raged – while others kept followers updated on the rail chaos
This image shows the temperature across the country as well as the wind speed, precipitation and air pressure as Storm Caroline sweeps across the UK. It also shows how the UK compares to other countries on the continent
The pilot of this Flybe aircraft struggled to land at Leeds Bradford International today
Efforts are underway to get North Sea oil rig workers to safety from Ninian Southern (file picture), 240 miles from Aberdeen
Where is Storm Caroline hitting – and what temperatures can we expect?
Today 8am to 11.55pm
- Wind warning for gusts of up to 90mph for Northern Scotland
- Lows of -3C (26F) in the North and -1C (30F) in the South are expected today, while freezing gales will make it feel even colder, with a wind chill factor of around -5C (23F) in the South and -16C (3F) in some northern regions.
- Some parts of Scotland could even fall as low as -8C (17F).
Friday 0.05am to Saturday 6pm
- Snow and ice warning for up to 8in of snow in Scotland and Wales, and down the UK’s western coast
Meanwhile, Storm Caroline also brings a frontal system, which will mean a wet and windy start for the southern half of the UK, before cold temperatures set in.
It covers much of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and parts of northern and western England.
Met Office meteorologist John West said: ‘Storm Caroline is well on its way across northern parts of the UK.
‘There will be devastating winds in some parts.
‘More broadly across Scotland there will be 60mph-70mph gusts, but in exposed areas we could see 90mph.’
With the latest forecasts predicting heavy snow over the next few days, the bookies are offering just 1/3 on snow falling anywhere in the UK on Saturday or Sunday.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: ‘All the attention so far has been on a likely White Christmas, but the latest odds are suggesting we’ll see snow a lot sooner than expected as we strap ourselves in and wrap ourselves up for a potentially record-breaking December.’
Pedestrians were caught in the strong winds and heavy rain on Westminster Bridge in London
A lorry on the A9 near Inverness, Scotland where blizzards are being blown by 90mph winds
People shielded themselves from the wind and rain in London today, which saw heavy rain, strong winds with coastal gales
Strong winds whip up the sand on Tynemouth beach. Snow showers will continue to develop in the area, with gales in exposure, making it feel bitterly cold
A dog battles in the wind during a walk along Ardrossan beach, North Ayrshire
A snowplough on the A9 near Inverness clears the way for motorists passing along the treacherous route
Widsurfers and kitesurfers take advantage of the storm force winds off the coast of West Sussex
Daredevils braved the waves as they kitesurfed in Goring, West Sussex – despite warnings from the authorities