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Storm Caroline: Travel chaos and power cuts in 90mph winds

Scotland to be battered by heavy snow and 90mph winds between Thursday and Saturday.

Schools have been closed, homes have been left without power and trains have been cancelled due to Storm Caroline.

Scotland is to be battered by heavy snow and 90mph winds between Thursday and Saturday.

The Met Office has issued warnings for wind, snow and ice covering the majority of the country.

SSEN said its engineers had reconnected around 13,000 homes and businesses to the grid following major power outages throughout the day.

However, around 3000 homes in the north of Scotland remained without power on Thursday evening, 1300 of which are in Shetland.

Dale Cargill, SSEN's director of customer operations, said: "I would like to thank all our customers who have experienced a power cut for their continued patience as our teams battle against the elements to restore power. 

"We would also like to apologise to any customers who remain off supply and would like to reassure them that we are well prepared and resourced to carry our repairs to our network as soon as it is safe to do so.

"With heavy snow and risk of lightning forecast for many parts tomorrow, as well as the continued situation in Shetland, we remain on Yellow Alert."

More than 50 schools, including nurseries, were closed because of the weather.

Children had to be rescued after waves broke over a sea wall and hit a school bus in Orkney.

More than 30 pupils were rescued by a 4x4 on Scapa Beach Road in Kirkwall at 11.20am on Thursday.

Train services including in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen were cancelled due to the weather.

A trampoline on the line at Neilston in East Renfrewshire shut the track at 7.15am on Thursday.

By early evening, however, some services had resumed on the West Highland Line.

Services between Inverness and Wick/Thurso, and Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh, remained suspended until further notice due to high winds.

ScotRail said normal service was expected to resume on Friday but forecasts of snow and ice over the weekend could mean further disruption for travellers over the coming days.

Winds: Storm-hit Gill Pier in Westray, Orkney.
Winds: Storm-hit Gill Pier in Westray, Orkney. Ailsa Seatter

Mark Ilderton, head of integrated control at the ScotRail Alliance, said: "The safety of our staff and customers remains our top priority, and it's on that basis that we take decisions about services during extreme weather.

"Following a reduction in wind speeds in some areas of the country, services between Glasgow Queen Street and Fort William, Oban and Mallaig have now resumed. There will continue to be disruption as we work to get things back to normal.

"Wind speeds remain too high in the very north of Scotland, which is why services to Wick, Thurso and Kyle of Lochalsh remain suspended. It is not safe for services to resume in that part of the country.

"We are carrying out safety checks on the Aberdeen-Inverness line to determine if it is safe to resume services there."

Delays: Trampoline blocked the line.
Delays: Trampoline blocked the line. ScotRail

A number of flights to and from Aberdeen, Inverness, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Benbecula have been cancelled.

Roads are also blocked across the country, including the Kingston Bridge in Glasgow, after a lorry shed its load of timber.

Orkney: Schools forced to close.
Orkney: Schools forced to close. Graham Campbell

Restrictions have also been put in place on the Tay Road Bridge and the Cromarty Bridge in the Highlands.

STV weather presenter Sean Batty said: "While the whole country will experience strong and possibly disruptive winds today it's the north of the country where Caroline will be at her strongest.

"The strongest swathe of winds will affect the Outer Hebrides, the north coast, Easter Ross, the Moray and north Aberdeenshire coast, then later the Northern Isles. Winds in this region could reach 80 to 90mph in gusts.

"Further south, even though the winds will not be as strong, there will still be some strong gusts and a risk of severe gales getting as far south as the Central Belt for a time late morning and early afternoon."

Storms: Commuters facing disruption.
Storms: Commuters facing disruption. Murdo Maclean

Sean added that sleet and snow was to hit parts of Scotland on Thursday afternoon.

"On Thursday afternoon, a more prolonged spell of sleet and snow will move south across the Highlands and Argyll, which could bring several cm of snow to some spots.

"This wintry band of weather will continue south into Stirlingshire, the Glasgow areas and Ayrshire during the evening and will bring a few cm of snow locally.

"With the strong winds continuing, the weather will deteriorate quickly in the passing snow showers with blizzard-like possible in the north.

"Heavy and frequent snow showers will continue to affect the north and far west on Friday with 15 to 20cm accumulating in some areas.

Across central and southern parts of the country it will be largely dry and sunny, although cold in the wind."

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