Edinburgh battered by ferocious winds


High gusts left one motorist’s car crushed by a collapsed tree

GUSTS of more than 70mph were recorded in Edinburgh today (Mon) as high winds brought down trees, shut major tourist attractions, and caused transport chaos.

Both Edinburgh Zoo and the city’s Royal Botanic Garden were closed because of fears the winds could bring down trees.

The highest gust of wind, according to the Met Office, was 72mph recorded at Blackford Hill. A gust of 61 mph was recorded in the Gogarburn area of the city.

A spokeswoman for the Zoo said:

“We have closed because of the wind. We have a lot of trees on site and some of them are very old. We are on a hill and it’s just wild here.

“We have put visitor safety first. Visitors have been offered either a refund or the chance to visit another day.

“It’s been over 12 months since the last time we had to close due to high winds. We’ve never been totally closed all day, just that we’ve had to close early. “

Alan Bennell, Head of Visitor Services at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh:

“The Garden has an overriding concern for the safety of its visitors and in exceptionally windy conditions it has to exclude the publicfrom the landscaped grounds, to avoid any risk of damage from falling trees or their branches.

“With more than 1800 exotic specimens around the site, despite excellent standards of maintenance, there is always a slight risk from such violent gusts. However, the John Hope Gateway, with its exhibitions, educational activities and shop and restaurant, remains open, and thus allows us to still look after our visitors.”

Police forces on the east coast reported that fallen branches and trees were causing havoc on the roads. There were reports of a tree down in Frederick Street, in the centre of Edinburgh.

A man and woman were taken to Queen Margaret hospital in Dunfermline after a tree fell on their car while they were traveling on the A91, near to Kinross.

John Hammond, a forecaster at the Met Office said:

“The weather unusual to get such strong winds so late in the spring, these are exceptionally strong winds for May.

“Scotland is certainly being hit by some of the most severe winds in the country. It’s probably feeling more like mid-autumn than late spring. “

The weather brought grief to motorists just before the afternoon rush hour.

At around 4.30pm the Forth Road Bridge closed to all traffic having previously only been open to cars.

A spokesman for the bridge said:

“It is uncommon for this to happen. It only happens every two or three years. It’s part of our operating procedure that when the winds reach over 80mph then we close the bridge. “

There were also many problems for commuters using the train as the Edinburgh to Glasgow shuttle line was reduced to a half-hourly service.

Services between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Shotts were also cancelled because of obstructions on the line.

And the Edinburgh to Dunblane service was reduced to an hourly service because of speed restrictions.

Edinburgh Airport was still open but a spokesman said that

“four or five’ flights had chosen not to land due to the weather.

He said:

“We’ve been experiencing a few planes who have decided not to land and have diverted elsewhere.

“Additionally we have had some reports of cladding on our south east pier coming loose and we are currently investigating it. “

In the Leith area of Edinburgh, a large advertising hoarding was ripped from its base and fell into the road, causing disruption for motorists in the area.

Princes Street Gardens was also closed because of branches from trees falling.

A spokesman for Edinburgh City council said:

“With regard to weather related issues, Princes Street gardens has been closed as there has been a number of sizable branches come down and it has been closed for safety reasons. A decision will be taken first thing tomorrow morning as to whether it is reopened.

“We have also had reports of branches falling on roads across the city and our parks department is prioritizing incidents where there is a danger to public safety or where it is posing access problems.

“So far, we’ve not had any reports of damage to buildings. “

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said while Edinburgh Castle remained open, access to certain areas had been restricted.

She said:

“The Castle is open but we have stopped admissions early and we have roped off a number of the more exposed areas. “

A Lothian and Borders police spokesman said:

“We have reports of a tree falling down in Queen Street Gardens West. It hit a car but thankfully the driver is ok.

“There has been a partial closure of the road while it is cleared away. “