All the schools in one part of the UK will be shut tomorrow as Storm Pia barrels into the country bringing 80mph winds.
The pre-Christmas wind cataclysm has sparked a yellow weather warning to be issued by the Met Office from midnight tonight, for all of the country north of Birmingham.
In the Shetland Islands authorities are so concerned at the strength of the winds set to lash the territory that they have ordered all schools to be closed.
Vital ferries bringing festive supplies and loved ones home from the mainland are also likely to be disrupted and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Distribution have announced crack teams will be brought in to manage any damage to supplies.
Weather maps from WXCharts show the much of the UK bathed in ominous reds and purples, with the latter shade marking wind gusts of between 60 to 80mph.
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The Met Office warning for wind from midnight to 9pm on Thursday, forecasts gusts of 70-80mph in northern Scotland, with 65-70mph on high ground, and 45-55mph elsewhere in the country.
The agency warned travellers perhaps heading home for the Christmas break tomorrow to take extra care on the roads and be mindful of falling tress and debris.
On the trains, Network Rail said many services will only run once safety inspections have taken place, leading to some cancellations.
The West Highland line, Kyle of Lochalsh line, and the Far North line, along with Inverness-Inverurie services, will all be subject to inspections before trains can run, and speed restrictions will also be in place in the central belt and the south of Scotland.
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Speaking on Scottish television channel STV, weather presenter Philip Petrie warned people show be preparted for “flying debris, the chance of falling trees, damage to buildings and also a lot of travel disruption, particularly to ferries”.
He added “gale to severe-gale force winds” were expected on Thursday.
Stephen Dixon, a Met Office spokesman, said: “It is quite a wide wind warning area. Gusts are forecast quite widely to be 45-55mph, possibly 65-70mph to the east of high ground in Scotland.
“The strongest winds are likely to be found in the north and north-east of Scotland, including the Northern isles, with 70-80mph in the morning.”
The Met Office forecasts showers along with the wind, with more rain expected on Friday. Mr Dixon said there is the possibility of snow on Christmas Day, but only in the far north of Scotland.
He added: “It looks like there will be a drier afternoon in the south of the UK for those post-Christmas dinner walks.”
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