School closures and power cuts as Storm Abigail batters Britain

Storm Abigail is causing major disruption with power cuts and school closures as gale force winds batter Britain.

Scotland has been worst hit by the strong gusts, but the rest of the UK can expect heavy, thundery showers throughout the day as a result of the Britain's first named storm.

The Met Office has warned surface water and gusts could cause problems during rush hour.

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 to pupils today.

A number of CalMac ferry sailings have already been cancelled and commuters on the trains and roads are facing disruption.

Western Isles Council said every school and nursery in its area will be closed to pupils, but will be open for teaching staff from 10am.

Shetland Islands Council also announced that its schools will be shut to pupils due to the forecast of strong winds and the possibility of lightning strikes.

Orkney Islands Council said any decision on school closures would be taken this morning.

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.

"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.

While winds speeds were predicted to reach 100mph the strongest gales were detected in the Outer Hebrides where it reached 84mph on Thursday night.

Overnight wind speeds of 79mph were detected in Sule Skerry in Scotland.

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.

High wind warnings are in place for key crossings, including the Erskine and Kessock bridges, while warnings of surface water have been issued for key commuter routes the M90 and M74.

Dublin Airport said it was experiencing some minor disruption to flight schedules due to strong winds, and advised passengers intending to travel this morning to check online for the latest flight information.

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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