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UK’s ‘weather bomb’ cuts power to 17,500
From the Financial Times of Wed, 10 Dec 2014 12:44:36 GMT
Giant waves hit the lighthouse wall in Whitehaven, as the stormy weather is causing disruption across parts of the UK with power cuts, ferry and train cancellations and difficult driving conditions. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 10, 2014. The Met Office has issued an amber ''be prepared'' warning for the west coast of Scotland, the Highlands and Islands, Orkney, Shetland and Northern Ireland as a so-called "weather bomb" batters the country. See PA story WEATHER Cold. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire©PA

Up to 17,500 people in Scotland’s Western Isles were left without power after a “weather bomb” of wet and windy conditions struck the UK with gusts of up to 100 miles an hour, disrupting transport links.

The whole of the Western Isles, including Barra and the Isle of Lewis, were cut off from 7am on Wednesday, with several thousand households still waiting to be reconnected by mid-afternoon.

The UK’s Met Office had issued an amber weather warning for the Western Isles and the Shetland Islands, indicating a potential risk to life and property, and the blustery conditions also affected mainland Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and northern England.

Gusts of 100 miles an hour were recorded in the Cairngorms mountain range. Scottish ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne cancelled services on the majority of its routes on Wednesday, and Irish Ferries also cancelled a number of services between Holyhead and Dublin.

There was also disruption to the train network in Scotland, including on the Caledonian Sleeper service from London. In many cases, replacement bus services were not being provided due to hazardous road conditions. The Met Office also advised people driving near costal areas or causeways to be aware of large waves.

Fifteen flood warnings and 12 flood alerts have been issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

The Met Office coined the term “weather bomb” for the extreme event, shorthand for the correct meteorological term of “rapid or explosive cyclogenesis”.

“This is where dry air from the stratosphere flows into an area of low pressure. This causes air within the depression to rise very quickly and increases its rotation, which in turn deepens the pressure and creates a more vigorous storm,” it explained on its website.

Scottish Hydro Electric Power said it had 500 engineers working to repair the damage done in the Western Isles, which it blamed on lightning strikes. Thousands of customers were still without power in the Highlands, and repairs were taking longer than expected due to the “nature and complexity” of the damage, it said.

Dr Steven Godby, an expert in natural hazards at Nottingham Trent University, said that examples of previous ‘weather bombs’ included “the storm that wreaked havoc during the August 1979 Fastnet yacht race, claiming the lives of 15 competitors, and the 1991 ‘Perfect Storm’ off the north east coast of the United States, which was the inspiration for the novel and film that told the story of the sinking of the fishing vessel Andrea Gail.”

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