A weather bomb has hit northern parts of the UK causing major disruption

Weather bomb wreaks havoc with UK's power grid

A rapidly developed storm that hit the north of the UK on Wednesday has knocked out power grids across the Western Isles, Shetland, Orkney and the Isle of Sky.

Engineers were forced to work throughout the night to restore power to the more than 30,000 affected homes but struggled with additional outages caused by powerful lightning strikes.

Scottish-based utility company SSE said it wasn't the strong gales but the electrical effects of the storm that caused major disruption.

"Just after 9am this morning a lightning strike near Fort Augustus resulted in a loss of supply to Skye and the Western Isles,” said SSE spokesman.

“In total around 27,000 customers are currently without power. Engineers are now working on the fault and we are hopeful that supplies will be restored within three hours,” the spokesman said adding that the firm had good levels of engineering resources on the ground across the Highlands and Islands to repair the faults as quickly as possible.

The so-called weather bomb, a rapidly developed cyclone caused by dry air from the stratosphere flowing into an area of low pressure, swept northern parts of the UK on Wednesday.

A Met Office amber alert – meaning 'be prepared' – had been in place throughout the day for the west coast of Scotland, the Highlands and Islands, Orkney, Shetland and Northern Ireland.

A wind speed of 144mph was recorded on the remote St Kilda islands, with gusts of more than 80mph also hitting some low-lying areas.

The weather warning remains in place for much of the UK but was downgraded to a yellow 'be aware' alert.

The weather bomb caused further disruption to rail and ferry services across Scotland.

"Obviously there has been transport disruption, principally on the ferry network and also on some of the coastal rail services where it's just been unsafe to run trains because of the dangers of the coastal flooding that could have taken place,” said Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

"Some alerts remain in place, and we are not out of the woods yet, but any necessary repairs and safety checks on the transport network are expected to go ahead as planned."

During the worst of yesterday's weather, a fishing vessel had to be escorted to safety off Orkney after it was hit by a wave, which smashed windows on the bridge.

The British-registered vessel O Genita, which has a Spanish crew, was escorted to Westray in Orkney by an RNLI lifeboat. None of the 16 crew were injured.

Forecasters said the gales will be gradually replaced with snowy showers with possible accumulation of snow in parts of Scotland.

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