POLICE advised the Shetland public to travel only if “absolutely necessary” after receiving reports of obstacles and debris on the roads during the first half of Saturday.
Acting chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch said Shetland Islands Council was responding to the reports and striving to clear the roads as quickly as possible. Police are urging motorists to drive with “extreme caution – particularly on coastal roads where debris can be blown up from the sea without warning”.
More than 2,500 homes in Shetland were left without power on Saturday morning after the islands were buffeted by stormy winds, with reports of gusts of around 100mph.
The rough weather held off long enough to allow Scalloway Fire Festival to take place in mild conditions on Friday, but overnight wind speeds picked up markedly and the Met Office continued to have an “amber” warning in place for Shetland by late morning.
Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) said 2,658 customers in Shetland were among nearly 40,000 across Scotland to be left without power – despite it having restored supplies to 73,000 as hurricane winds “wreaked havoc” across much of the country.
Residents in Vidlin and Whalsay, amongst other areas, reported that they had no power first thing in the morning.
The number of isles households affected had been reduced to around 2,000 according to an update issued by SHEPD at teatime on Saturday.
All of Loganair’s scheduled flights in and out of Sumburgh Airport on Saturday were cancelled.
The sailings of NorthLink’s passenger ferries the Hrossey (from Lerwick to Aberdeen) and the Hjaltland (from Aberdeen to Lerwick) have been cancelled. Both of Sunday night’s scheduled sailings are under review, with an update expected at 10am on Sunday.
The SIC’s bus service has been suspended, while there have been disruptions to ferry services in Whalsay and Bluemull Sound – though most sailings had resumed by the early evening as winds eased.
A bus belonging to tour company Andrew’s Adventures was blown onto its side, but there were no passengers and the driver was unhurt.
There have been numerous reports of damage to roofs, with houses in Lerwick losing dozens of tiles and, in some cases, entire roof coverings being blown off.
The Met Office amber warning has been put in place between 4am and noon, stating gusts of 80-90mph were likely over Shetland and “an increased likelihood now that some parts of the islands may see gusts near or exceeding 100mph”.
The public “should be aware of the likelihood of disruption to both transport and power supplies, as well as the risk of some structural damage”.
Large waves “may lead to dangerous conditions along some coasts”, with the strongest winds due to ease from the west by around midday.
SHEPD said the deteriorating weather was hampering efforts to repair the electricity network, with some engineers working through the night where it was safe to do so and others beginning their work at 6am. Workers have been drafted in from its sister company in England.
Its director of engineering Alan Broadbent said: “Our electricity network was battered continuously by hurricane winds for eight hours on Thursday night and during much of Friday. This has weakened it in places, which caused more power cuts overnight.
“I know an apology may not be much comfort for our customers who have been without power, but I would like to reassure them that we are doing all we possibly can during extremely treacherous, challenging and severe weather conditions.”