Severe winds hammer Scotland

AP News

12/8/2011 3:30:36 PM - AP News

Severe winds slammed Scotland on Thursday, snarling transport and leaving thousands without power as gusts in some areas surpassed 100 miles per hour (160 kph).

Britain's Met Office _ which issued a "red alert" for parts of Scotland _ said a wind speed of 151 mph was recorded on a summit in Aberdeenshire. On lower ground, 105 mph winds hit Tulloch Bridge in Inverness, it said.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland said a wide area of the country would be affected and that "people could be putting themselves at considerable risk" by traveling in such weather conditions.

The gale-force winds led authorities to close many schools and most major bridges.

Glasgow Airport said 37 flights were canceled, while Edinburgh Airport said 21 were canceled and three diverted.

The wind made operations "extremely challenging," the Edinburgh Airport said on its web site. Meanwhile, train schedules also were disrupted.

Scottish Hydro said "thousands" of customers were without power, mostly in the west of Scotland. It said it expects the situation to "develop throughout the day" as the storm moves east.

The severe weather also hit parts of northern England, with Cumbria experiencing heavy rain and widespread localized flooding.

Buckingham Palace said the weather had forced Sophie, the Countess of Wessex _ wife of Prince Edward _ to postpone two planned visits in northern England, while the Duke of Gloucester was forced to cancel engagements in Glasgow.

A Royal Air Force helicopter rescued two people from a car trapped in rising waters in Aysgarth, in Yorkshire, northern England.