Highlands and Islands hit by 84mph gusts as Storm Abigail moves in


Hundreds of homes are without power and schools have been closed as Storm Abigail sweeps across Britain.

The Highlands and Islands have been worst hit by gusts of 84mph in places but the rest of the UK can expect heavy, thundery showers throughout the day as a result of Britain's first named storm.

Met Office weather warnings remain in place but the worst of the weather appears to have passed without causing major disruption.

An amber "be prepared" weather warning has been issued for the Highlands and Orkney and Shetland Islands while a yellow "be aware" warning covers most of Scotland and part of the south-west of England and Wales.

All schools in Shetland and the Western Isles are closed on Friday as the local council prepared for the storm.

Thousands of homes lost power overnight as high winds and lightning hit the Western Isles and north of Scotland.

The majority of properties have been reconnected and SSE engineers are working to restore power to parts of Lewis, Harris and Orkney.

The storm reached its peak in the early hours of this morning and while it will ease through the day, it will be a slow process, forecaster Simon Partridge said.

He added: ''It's going to be a blustery, wet day for most parts and feel much cooler than it has done in recent weeks.

''Temperatures will be much closer to the average for this time of year and in Scotland it might even drop to a 'feels-like' temperature of around 1C (33.8F)."

Northern Ireland is also set for a blustery day, with winds of up to 60mph forecast in isolated areas.

Winds reached 84mph in the Outer Hebrides on Thursday night and 79mph gusts were detected in Sule Skerry on Friday.

Scotland's transport minister Derek Mackay told BBC Radio Scotland: "There has been an impact on coastal communities and the islands where the most severe weather warnings are in place, but for the rest of the country it's been wintry and blustery.

"I think it was right to prepare for the worst, this is the beginning of the winter period and it allows us to make sure all services are working together.

"There shouldn't be any major travel disruption that we feared last night and particularly this morning, it seems to have passed and others have described it to me as just 'fairly minging out there' - now that's neither a technical weather term of a Transport Scotland term."

On Thursday night Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team was called out to look for a hillwalker who attempted to climb Ben Nevis via Observatory Gully as Storm Abigail closed.

The team posted on Facebook that due to the weather ''on the scale of difficulty this route is certain death''. The man was found with chest injuries and lowered to safety at about 8.30pm.

The storm is the first such weather system affecting the country to merit a name as part of the Met Office ''name our storms'' project, which asked the public to suggest names.

Officials hope the project will help raise awareness of severe weather and ensure greater safety of the public.

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