Storm Ciara: Severe gale-force winds set to pummel Scotland

Various yellow weather warnings for wind, rain and snow have been put in place from Saturday until Tuesday.

Sea spray: Yellow weather warnings for wind, rain and snow have been put in place. Pixabay
Sea spray: Yellow weather warnings for wind, rain and snow have been put in place.

Storm Ciara is set to cause havoc this weekend as severe gale-force winds pummel the country.

Various yellow weather warnings for wind, rain and snow have been put in place from Saturday until Tuesday.

Strong winds will blow across Scotland from Saturday afternoon, while heavy rain is expected to hit Kelso in the Scottish Borders all the way to Dumfries on the west coast.

The Met Office is warning to expect travel delays by road, rail and ferry.

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On Saturday, a number of CalMac ferry crossings were cancelled.

At around 3pm, Traffic Scotland advised that the Dornoch Bridge and Tay Road Bridge had been closed to high-sided vehicles.

Double-decker buses have also been prohibited from travelling across the Forth Road Bridge.

The Met office also warned that short-term loss of power “is likely” and there is danger of flooding to homes and businesses.

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Some coastal routes and sea fronts could also be battered by spray and large waves.

On Monday, heavy snow and strong winds will combine to cause disruption. The warning has been put in place from Dumfries and Galloway up to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and the Highlands.

As well as delays and cancellations to rail and air travel, road users could be in danger of becoming stranded.

STV meteorologist Sean Batty said: “While we’ve been enjoying a lovely quiet few days here in Scotland, a winter storm in the north east states of the US and eastern Canada has been dumping huge amounts of snow.

“It’s this weather system, which as of Friday lunchtime is just over 3000 miles to the west of us, which will cross the Atlantic on Saturday and rapidly deepen to become Storm Ciara.

“At this stage we’re still assessing the exact track of the storm system on Sunday, but at this stage it looks like the worst of the winds for us will be across central and southern parts of Scotland, although this could shift.”

Sean said to expect winds gusting 55-60mph. Gusts of 70mph could be experienced in the Inner Hebrides, coastal Argyll, Inverclyde and Ayrshire.

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He added: “We should also cater for a small risk of gusts up to 80mph in the most exposed parts of Argyll, Arran and Inner Hebrides.

“We’re also monitoring the possibility of something called a sting jet, which some models have suggested could occur.

“These have the potential to bring a short burst of even stronger winds to a small area, but are difficult to forecast at any great lead time, but it will be something watched for on Sunday.”

Sean warned that the snow and strong winds could lead to “considerable drifts”.

He said: “Snow will also be an issue in some areas after the passage of Ciara. By Tuesday morning there could be a few centimetres of snow above 150 metres and as much as 10cm above 300 metres.

“It’s likely the snow gates on some of the higher roads will be closed at times into early next week, especially in the west of the country.

“Details on this storm system could change at short notice and you should keep up to date throughout the weekend.”

Stay safe in a storm

Before the storm:

  • Secure loose objects such as ladders, garden furniture or anything else that could be blown into windows and other glazing and break them.
  • Close and securely fasten doors and windows, particularly those on the windward side of the house, and especially large doors such as those on garages.
  • Park vehicles in a garage, if available; otherwise keep them clear of buildings, trees, walls and fences.
  • Close and secure loft trapdoors with bolts.
  • If the house is fitted with storm shutters over the windows then ensure that these are closed and fastened.
  • If chimney stacks are tall and in poor condition, move beds away from areas directly below them.

During the storm:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • If you do go out, try not to walk or shelter close to buildings and trees.
  • Keep away from the sheltered side of boundary walls and fences – if these structures fail, they will collapse on this side.
  • Do not go outside to repair damage while the storm is in progress.
  • If possible, enter and leave your house through doors in the sheltered side, closing them behind you.
  • Open internal doors only as needed, and close them behind you.
  • Take care when driving on exposed routes such as bridges, or high open roads, delay your journey or find alternative routes if possible.
  • Slow down and be aware of side winds, particular care should be taken if you are towing or are a high-sided vehicle.
  • Do not drive unless your journey is really necessary.

After the storm:

  • Be careful not to touch any electrical/telephone cables that have been blown down or are still hanging.
  • Do not walk too close to walls, buildings and trees as they could have been weakened.
  • Make sure that any vulnerable neighbours or relatives are safe and help them make arrangements for any repairs.

Sturgeon will ‘refute’ allegations of misleading parliament

First Minister says she doesn't accept claims made by her predecessor Alex Salmond that she broke the ministerial code.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon says she doesn't accept claims made by Alex Salmond.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will refute accusations she misled the Scottish Parliament – a claim made by her predecessor as first minister Alex Salmond – when she appears before a committee of MSPs.

Asked about Salmond’s claims on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, she said: “I don’t accept that and I will refute that vigorously.”

Sturgeon said she had hoped to appear before the Holyrood committee investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints this coming week, but her appearance had been delayed by a “couple of weeks”.

She said: “I will sit before that committee and I will set out my account of what happened, given the very difficult situation that I faced, and people can make their own judgements on that.”

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Salmond has claimed that his successor as First Minister misled MSPs with “false and manifestly untrue” statements about when she first knew of sexual harassment allegations against him.

But Sturgeon said she does not believe she lied to parliament and Deputy First Minister John Swinney says she will use her appearance before the inquiry to dispel the “absolute nonsense” put forward by her predecessor.

Sturgeon initially told Holyrood she first heard of complaints of sexual misconduct against Salmond when they met at her home on April 2, 2018.

It later emerged she had a meeting with Salmond’s chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, in her Holyrood office four days earlier.

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The SNP leader told the Scottish Parliament committee she “forgot” about that encounter.

Asked by Marr if Salmond was “spinning false conspiracy theories”, Sturgeon said: “What I certainly reflect on is that at times I appear to be simultaneously accused of colluding with Mr Salmond to somehow cover up accusations of sexual harassment on the one hand.

“And then on the other hand, being part of some dastardly conspiracy to bring him down.

“Neither of those are true.”

She continued: “I, at the time I became aware of all of this, just tried hard not to interfere with what was going on and not to do anything that would see these swept aside rather than properly investigated.”

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had made “mistakes” in its handling of the complaints, which would be the subject of the Holyrood committee’s inquiry.

Temperatures set to fall after yellow alert for snow and ice

The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning from 4pm on Sunday to 11am on Monday.

Carlos G. Lopez via Getty Images

Temperatures could fall as low as -13C following a yellow alert for snow and ice across parts of Scotland. 

The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning from 4pm on Sunday to 11am on Monday. 

The worst affected areas will be in the Northern Isles, Moray, parts of Aberdeenshire, the Highlands and the west coast including Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.

Drivers have been warned that the wintry weather could affect the roads.

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STV weather presenter Philip Petrie said temperatures could drop as low as -13C on Monday night – the coldest night of the winter so far. 

He said: ”On Saturday night temperatures dropped to lows of -11.4C in Dalwhinnie, which meant that on Sunday temperatures were slow to rise during the day with many areas struggling to get above freezing. 

“Once again on Sunday night we see widespread frost developing for many central and eastern parts thanks to clear skies and dry conditions, but with further wintry showers expected to move in from the west overnight there is a risk that the rain hitting the frozen ground will turn to ice – possibly causing some travel disruptions through Monday morning. 

“The worst affected areas will be the Northern Isles, Moray, the north of Aberdeenshire, the Highlands stretching down the western side of the country down to Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumbartonshire.

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“After an initially showery start to the day on Monday, the showers will fizzle out through the evening leaving another dry and clear night – giving the potential for our coldest night of the winter so far. Back at the start of January temperatures reached a low of -12.3C in Loch Glascarnoch, but on Monday night there is the potential for temperatures to drop to -13C.”


Blunder over envelope colour for over 70s vaccine letter

The Scottish Government will now send out white, windowed envelopes after a supply issue for blue ones.

Javier Zayas Photography via Getty Images
Blunder: Blue envelopes swapped for white ones after supply issue.

White envelopes will be used for the first tranche of coronavirus appointments for those aged 70-79 because blue ones were not ready in time, the Scottish Government has announced.

As the inoculation programme moves through priority groups, several health board areas are beginning to send out letters telling those in the age group when they will receive their first dose of the Covid-19 jab.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman urged people to look out for the “very distinctive” blue envelopes, which are being given priority by Royal Mail.

However on Sunday evening the Scottish Government announced that white, windowed envelopes, with a distinctive black NHS logo on the right, will be used as a temporary measure as the blue envelopes are not ready.

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It said the change has no impact on the vaccination programme timetable, with the first appointment letters expected to be delivered on Monday as planned.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The blue envelopes we hoped to use were not ready in time for the first tranche of vaccine appointment invitations so distinctive NHS branded white envelopes are being used as a temporary measure.

“The absolute priority remains the rollout of vaccinations and this temporary change to the envelope colour has absolutely no impact to our timetable.

“We continue to strongly urge everyone in the 70-79 age group to check all their post in the coming weeks and take up the offer of the vaccine when it is received.

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“Patients may receive a phone call invitation from their local health board as part of the appointment process and all patients aged 75-79 in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will be invited via phone. ”

A new booking system is also being used by several health boards to schedule appointments for patients in order of priority.

Greater Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Lothian are among the NHS boards which will use the system.

The Scottish Government has said they are on track for all those aged 80 and over to have received their first dose of the vaccine by the end of the first week in February.

This age group will not receive a blue envelope as they are being contacted by telephone or another form of letter.

Ms Freeman said: “I would urge everyone to take up their appointment when they are offered one.

“The vaccination programme is one of three key ways we are working to beat this virus, along with our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission and the important lockdown restrictions everyone in Scotland must follow.

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“All these measures work to greatest effect when they work together.”

Former postie set to enter charts with viral sea shanty hit

Nathan Evans' sea shanty Wellerman is on course to be the highest new entry on the Official Singles Chart.

PA Media via PA Ready
Nathan Evans has signed a record deal with Polydor Records.

Postman Nathan Evans is poised to enter the top ten on the Official Singles Chart with his viral sea shanty Wellerman.

The song, which has been a smash hit on TikTok, is set to be the highest new entry on the chart, according to the official first look, based on preliminary sales and early streaming reports.

Evans, 26, from Airdrie, Scotland, has quit his job as a postman after kick-starting a new viral craze of sea-shantying on TikTok, dubbed ShantyTok, and signing a record deal with Polydor Records.

Evans previously told the PA news agency: “Back in the day when the shanties were sung, it was to bring everybody together, to keep them all in time, to keep the morale high.

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“Especially in this time when everybody’s stuck at home, they’re doing their remote working – they can join in, and it kind of brings everybody together.

“So I think it’s just kind of brought it into this day and age. It makes it feel like you’re all united. Especially seeing how creative everybody can be with it.”

Wellerman is a cover of Bristol group The Longest Johns’ 2018 song, which also entered the Official Top 40 just last week, debuting at Number 37.

Evans has released his own take on the shanty, plus a dance remix produced by 220 Kid and Billen Ted, which is tipped to enter the charts at number four.

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Wellerman is the most downloaded song of the week so far, two days into the tracking week, the Official Charts Company said.

The Official Chart: First Look, which airs on BBC Radio 1 today between 6pm and 7pm, offers a first glance of the top 20 ahead of Friday’s Official Singles Chart Top 100.

Olivia Rodrigo, 17, is poised to spend a third week in the top spot with her smash hit Drivers License.

More than 23,000 given coronavirus vaccine in last 24 hours

The First Minister said on Sunday that 95% of care home residents have now been given the vaccine.

Paul Biris via Getty Images
Covid: Vaccine roll out continues across Scotland.

More than 23,000 people have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in the last 24 hours, figures have shown.

On Sunday, the latest figures showed 404,038 people have received their first coronavirus vaccination, an increase of 23,371 since Saturday.

The figures also stated that 5383 people have received their second dose.

It follows comments made by the First Minister on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, during which she said 95% of care home residents have now been vaccinated.

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Nicola Sturgeon said: “We took a deliberate decision in line with JCVI advice to focus initially on vaccinating older residents of care homes.”

She continued: “I heard Matt Hancock on the programme earlier say that about three quarters of care home residents in England had been vaccinated, in Scotland that figure right now is 95% of care home residents.”

The First Minister said this approach was more “resource intensive” and Scotland was now “rapidly catching up” on vaccinating over-80s in the community.

She added: “We’re all working to the same targets, overall I think we will see that we all are making good progress through this vaccination programme.”

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Sunday’s figures released by the Scottish Government stated there were 1195 new cases of Covid-19 reported, with 2011 in hospital with the virus.

Of that number, 157 people were in intensive care, a decrease of two from Saturday.

The total number of deaths after confirmed coronavirus in Scotland now stands at 5705 after one death was reported on Sunday.

Reported deaths from coronavirus are typically lower on weekends as register offices are usually closed.


Boy, 12, struck by train in critical condition in hospital

The boy was hit by a train at Prestwick Town railway station in South Ayrshire on Saturday night.

© Google Maps 2020
Boy was hit by train at Prestwick Town railway station.

A 12-year-old boy is in a critical condition in hospital after being struck by a train at a railway station in South Ayrshire.

The boy, who was not on the tracks at any point, was hit at Prestwick Town railway station just after 7.20pm on Saturday night.

He was taken by ambulance to hospital, where he remains in a critical conditon.

British Transport Police (BTP) officers say the incident is being treated as an accident and are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

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BTP said in a statement: “Last night (Saturday 23 January 2021) at just after 7.20pm, BTP Officers were called to Prestwick Town Railway Station, South Ayrshire, after reports of a 12-year-old boy being struck by a train.

“Colleagues from Police Scotland also attended.   The Scottish Ambulance Service took the young man to hospital where he remains in a critical condition.  

“The incident is currently being treated as an accident.  If you have any information about this incident, please contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 432 of 23/1/2021.”


Women rescued from Ben Lomond charged with Covid breach

Two women charged in connection with culpable and reckless conduct after needing assistance from emergency services.

G Kelly & S Tinley via Lomond Mountain Rescue Team (@LomondMRT)
Two women were rescued from summit of Ben Lomond.

Two women have been charged with breaching coronavirus restrictions after being rescued from Ben Lomond in Stirlingshire.

The women, in their twenties, had travelled from Fife to go walking but needed to phone for help after getting into difficulty in poor weather on Saturday afternoon.

Lomond Mountain Rescue Team and emergency services assisted the two walkers from near the summit of Ben Lomond to the foot of the mountains by around 6.30pm.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Officers were called to assist Mountain Rescue partners on Ben Lomond at around 2pm on Saturday, 23 January, 2021 after two female walkers requested assistance to descend the hill in deteriorating weather conditions.

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“The women were assisted and walked off the hill and both uninjured. They have been charged in connection with culpable and reckless conduct.”

G Kelly & S Tinley via Lomond Mountain Rescue Team (@LomondMRT)

Coronavirus travel restrictions are in place across the whole of mainland Scotland – meaning people should only leave their homes for an essential purpose, including caring responsibilities, essential shopping, exercise and being part of an extended household.

Teenage girl sexually assaulted at city park

Seventeen-year-old girl was attacked at Tollcross Park in the east end of Glasgow on Saturday night.

© Google Maps 2020
Teenager was sexually assaulted inside Tollcross Park.

A teenage girl was sexually assaulted inside a Glasgow park on Saturday night.

The 17-year-old was attacked at Tollcross Park, in the city’s east end, between 9pm and 11pm.

Police Scotland said: “Police are investigating a report of a 17-year-old girl being sexually assaulted within Tollcross Park, Glasgow, between 9pm and 11pm on Saturday, 23 January, 2021.

“Enquiries are at an early stage to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.”

Burns in the Covid era: Tributes to National Bard go virtual

Traditional gatherings are unable to take place this year so Robert Burns' birthday is being celebrated online instead.

Bachelors of Tarbowton

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!

The immortal words of Scotland’s National Bard – reverberating around the world this year like never before as thousands log-on to celebrate virtual Burns Night suppers.

Traditional gatherings – filled with poetry, song and whisky – are unable to take place in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But that hasn’t stopped Scots raising a glass and celebrating the life of Robert Burns on his birthday.

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And the University of Glasgow has set out to chronicle the many Burns Suppers taking place online in Scotland and across the globe in 2021.

A research project led by academics from the university includes an interactive world map – featuring 2500 Burns suppers across five continents and giving an inventory of their menus, settings, entertainment and orders of ceremony.

It is the broadest, most detailed record of Burns Night activities ever made by the university’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies.

Researchers are calling on Scots to join in their #VirtualBurnsNight – by posting photos and videos of their event on social media – to help expand the map and their research project even further.

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Dr Paul Malgati, a research assistant on The Burns Supper in History and Today project at the University of Glasgow, said: “This January is an unprecedented moment in the 220-year long history of Burns Night.

“We’re expecting to see thousands of people tuning into hundreds of Burns celebrations held virtually all over the world.

“At the University of Glasgow, we’ve just released a giant world map of Burns suppers and we’ll be following this year’s situation very closely.

“We have already sent out invitations to join us for our #VirtualBurnsNight 2021 to 2000 addresses, across more than 140 countries.

“These include Scottish societies, pipe bands, Burns clubs, Scottish country dance group, rotary clubs, British embassies, libraries, museums, schools and universities, which all hosted a Burns Supper or a Burns Night celebration in recent years.

“Considering the effects of the global pandemic, we realised that by bringing together all our contacts, we had a unique opportunity to hold a substantial, virtual event, making up for the cancellation of many Burns suppers across the world.”

The University of Glasgow says it is estimated that more than nine-and-a-half million people around the world take part in a Burns Supper every year.

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This year’s project will be part of the celebrations to mark the 220th anniversary of the first Burns Supper – held in Burns Cottage, Alloway on July 21, 1801, commemorating the date of the bard’s passing rather than his birth.

One group that has already celebrated Burns Night virtually is the Ayrshire-based Bachelors of Tarbowton, who live-streamed their celebrations on Zoom.

Organiser Cameron Goodall said people tuned in from countries across the world, including the United States and New Zealand.

He said: “Because our Burns Club is made up of very serious Burns people, we traditionally have our suppers very late – typically around March.

“We usually have to go that late to ensure everyone will be available. Most are the backbone of several Burns Suppers around Scotland.

“We already had to forego our 2020 Burns Supper and we had rescheduled at that stage for the end of 2020. As it became clear even that was going to be impossible I started seriously looking at Zoom to enable us to get together as a group. 

“We managed a dress rehearsal, of sorts, to coincide with St Andrew’s Day and I wanted to let the world at large get a peek under the curtain, as it were.”

Cameron said he decided to live-stream their Zoom Burns Night on YouTube, adding that such a move was not without its teething problems.

“A few of our members are still somewhat challenged by technology but we still managed to have a grand night,” he said.

“Our suppers at The Bachelors Club would usually last about five hours and our online one was only a half-hour short of that, but it’s since been edited down to a slightly more manageable three hours!”

Some of the biggest Burns Night suppers are taking place right here in Scotland. Here are the details of some of the major online events planned this year:

  • WORLD’S BIGGEST BURNS – Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus, a charity that supports people with spina bifida, hydrocephalus and related conditions, says it is hosting the “world’s biggest Burns Supper”. The celebration, taking place on Monday at 7pm, features comedy from Fred MacAulay and music from Travis frontman Fran Healy.
  • BURNS&BEYOND – Burns&Beyond is a free programme of events and performances running across Burns weekend. It features a series of online music performances, poetry and even a cocktail-making class.
  • BIG BURNS SUPPER – Hosted by comedian Janey Godley, an online broadcast featuring musicians, comedians, actors, aerialists and historians from across the world. The event will be broadcast from 7pm on January 25 via Facebook.

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