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High winds and flooding as Storm Abigail sweeps across Scotland

Police, ferry operators, forecasters and Sepa have all warned the public as parts of Scotland are battered with severe gales and heavy rain.

Storm Abigail STV Weather graphic news image uploaded November 11 2015
STV Weather

Storm Abigail has begun to sweep across Scotland, bringing with it high winds and flooding.

Abigail, the first storm the Met Office has ever named in Britain, hit north of the border on Thursday evening.

Widespread flooding has been reported and gusts of up to 90mph have been forecast

The Outer Hebrides were the first to be hit by Abigail, with South Uist seeing winds of 84mph.

Thunderstorms are also expected, particularly in the North West of the country, with warnings that lightning could cause power outages.

An amber warning has been issued for the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and parts of the Highlands and Islands.

Yellow Met Office warnings remain in place across Strathclyde, Grampian, Tayside, Fife and the Scottish Borders.

Forecasters say disruption is expected in these areas as a deep low pressure system crosses to the north of the UK.

The storm, which is expected to reach its height overnight, has already brought strengthening winds and heavy rain to many parts of Scotland.

By 5pm on Thursday, CalMac said 24 of its 26 ferry routes were disrupted.

The firm has urged travellers to "think carefully" if they are planning to visit the west coast.

Train operator ScotRail said there is minor disruption on its routes from Glasgow to Carlisle/Newcastle, Glasgow to Ardrossan/Ayr/Largs and Kilmarnock to Ayr.

The Forth Road Bridge has been closed to high-sided vehicles, cars with trailers, caravans, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.

A number of flights have been badly affected by the conditions. The 6.10pm flight from Campbeltown was cancelled, as were journeys from Tiree and Islay.

In Aberdeen, two flights from Scatsta on Shetland were also scrapped due to weather conditions.

Flood warnings are in place across the country, while flooding has been reported in a number of areas on Thursday.

Motorists have been told to expect disruption and people living in coastal areas on the west of Scotland were warned about flooding.

All schools and nurseries in the Western Isles and Shetland will be closed on Friday and bus services stopped at 6pm on Thursday.

Operations director Drew Collier said: "There is a clear warning that major weather related disruption to ferry services on the Clyde and Hebrides routes is likely later this week so I would urge people to factor this in when making travel plans. The sea conditions we are expecting could well be too treacherous to sail in."

Storm warnings have been issued by the Met Office for waters off the west coast of Scotland and to the north east of Shetland.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: "Strong, sudden gusts of wind can be very dangerous for motorists driving in exposed areas so we are urging motorists not to be caught out by Storm Abigail.

"The 'invisible' force of the wind can lead to vehicles unexpectedly being knocked off course, sometimes with devastating consequences."

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has issued a flood alert for Ayrshire and Arran with coastal flooding possible.

The risk is expected to be worst during the high tide on Thursday night and Friday morning due to a storm surge and high waves.

Police Scotland warned: "Residents and businesses are encouraged to remain vigilant and remember it is your responsibility to take actions which help protect yourself and your property.

"Advice and information is available through Floodline by calling 0345 9881188 or visiting the Sepa website."

STV weatherman Sean Batty said gales of a similar speed to Storm Abigail are fairly normal for the time of year.

He added: "The naming of the storm may worry some people, as this has not been done before. However, this is something new being tried out by the Met Office and Met Éireann, and all storm systems that look as if they will affect the UK will now be named.

"After a fairly quiet autumn, the weather is going into an unsettled phase with low pressure systems now speeding in from the Atlantic and bringing bouts of wind and rain.

"Over the last few days the Atlantic systems have brought several inches of rain to some parts of the west with some flooding issues, and there is no sign of this letting up. Further spells of heavy rain are expected in the coming days, which could lead to more flooding, especially over the weekend.

"The strong jet stream crossing the Atlantic will develop the storm system, Abigail, during Thursday and this will run north of Scotland on Friday. Abigail will bring widespread gales along the west coast, with wind gusts of 60 to 70mph around the north and north west.

"There is a risk that winds could reach 80 to 90mph in the most exposed parts, such as Tiree, Coll, Skye, Rum, Eigg, and the Western Isles. The strongest winds will pass through during Thursday evening and overnight into Friday, slowly easing during the day.

"The unsettled and changeable weather is likely to continue for the next few weeks. Temperatures are also expected to return to average which will bring occasional snow to the mountains."

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