Storm Barra ‘weather bomb’ forces schools to shut as snow and 68mph winds batter UK

Some schools in areas that saw the worst damage from the storm remain closed

Lamiat Sabin
Wednesday 08 December 2021 08:53 GMT
Storm Barra: Roof ripped off school and major travel disruption in Wales

Storm Barra has battered parts of the UK and Ireland with a “weather bomb” of snow, rain and 68mph winds and is set to bring more disruption.

The storm has brought gales and blizzards to the worst affected areas in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Around 38,000 homes remain without power in the Republic of Ireland late on Tuesday evening and some may not be reconnected for a number of days.

The “weather bomb” is set to continue on Wednesday, with a yellow warning for wind in place during the day as schools in parts of Ireland and Scotland remain closed.

Becky Mitchell, senior operational meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “The strong winds will continue across the UK this evening, bringing widely 40-50mph, and up to 65mph at the coast.

“This could give tricky travelling conditions, some power outages and large waves at the coast.

“Rain and snow will clear Scotland after midnight, and the winds will gradually ease for most of the country. However, it will stay windy in parts of southwest England and Wales, where a yellow wind warning remains in force through Wednesday.”

A “weather bomb” – otherwise known as an explosive cyclogenesis – can occur when the central pressure inside an area of low pressure or storm falls “at a very rapid rate” and leads to very strong winds and heavy rain.

It occurs if the central pressure drops by 24 millibars or more in 24 hours.

As well as the warnings from the Met Office, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has also issued two flood warnings and 10 flood alerts for Scotland.

Ireland’s Department of Education confirmed on Tuesday evening that any school, higher education institution, or childcare facilities currently or forecast to be in a red or orange alert area – Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cork and Kerry – should remain closed.

The order also covers schools in Waterford, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo and Wexford.

In Scotland, schools in Dumfries and Galloway have also been forced to close due to weather damage. Stranraer Academy shut after the wind caused structural damage to its roof, and Drummore School closed because trees had been blown down.

Gusts in Scotland have reached as high as 68mph, the Met Office said. The gust was recorded in Machrihanish, near Campbeltown in Argyll, on Tuesday afternoon, with strong winds forecast to continue throughout the night.

At the beginning of the week, the Met Office had issued yellow weather warnings for snow and wind, with forecasters warning of gusts of up to 80mph on the west coast and of up to 65mph around the east coast.

It warned of two to 5cm of snow in some areas, and of 10-20cm in the southern uplands and the Highlands.

Scot Rail cancelled services and warned passengers of delays after the operator was forced to slow down trains because of the weather. London North Eastern Railway also announced a series of delays and alterations because of the weather.

Meanwhile, Rod Dennis, RAC Breakdown spokesperson, said motorists should “really have their wits about them to stay safe”.

He added: “We urge drivers to stick to major routes wherever possible, slow down to the right speed for the conditions and take particular care when passing high-sided vehicles to avoid being buffeted off course.”

The Met Office said it is likely that Barra will not be as bad as Storm Arwen, but that disruption to the travel network is likely.

Elsewhere, some short-term loss of power is possible due to the wind.

Forecasters have also said there is “a small chance” that larger-than-usual waves in coastal areas could pose a risk of injury or potentially a threat to life if winds whip street and beach furniture into the air.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency had 11 flood warnings in place as of Tuesday afternoon.

They have been along the south coast of England between Dorset and Hampshire, in Christchurch, Beaulieu, Fareham, and Langstone and Emsworth, and along the Essex coast at Coalhouse Fort.

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