Jan 4 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Wednesday
NEAR hurricane-force winds caused absolute chaos for commuters and damaged several buildings throughout Stirling and beyond yesterday, forcing locals to batten down the hatches.
Swirling gusts in excess of 70 miles per hour resulted in chunks of debris falling from Stirling’s fire station on Raploch Road, a situation replicated at many public and privately-owned buildings.
Staff at The Peak leisure centre in Forthside Way were among many employees sent home for the day after structural damage was reported at the complex.
A spokesperson said: “The Peak and Forthbank will be closing today (Tuesday) with immediate effect. We will open as normal on Wednesday.”
Upper Craigs in the city centre was also cordoned off by police as locals were making their way into work after a chimney fell from a rooftop.
It’s the second time in recent weeks a substantial piece of masonry has crashed to the pavement below as a result of high winds, following a similar incident in Baker Street on December 8.
Residents were also urged to be on their guard as slates and pieces of roofing felt – particularly in Port Street, King Street and Pitt Terrace – were seen scattered across pedestrian areas, as well as rubbish from toppled bins.
Early-morning yesterday, a representative for Stirling Weather posted on the group’s Facebook page that winds in the centre of the city reached as high as 73mph.
Just after 8.30am, the spokesperson said: “Our weather station is back online after a power outage and during that time it recorded a wind gust of 74.3mph.
“That’s much higher than anything we have experienced in recent times.”
Fallen trees caused problems throughout the region’s roads network, including Airthrey Road on the outskirts of Bridge of Allan, Cawdor Crescent, Dunblane and Forth Street in Stirling’s Riverside area, among several others.
The M9 was closed to northbound traffic at junction eight after a tree came down across the carriageway and a lorry overturned, according to Central Scotland Police.
In addition, a police spokesperson advised mid-morning: “Travel conditions in Central Scotland are extremely difficult at present and we are advising the public not to travel.
“High winds have led to numerous roads being closed and caused damage to buildings. Problems are particularly severe in the Callander and Balfron areas.”
She continued: “Central Scotland Police is working with councils, roads maintenance companies and other partners to deal with a very large number of weather-related incidents.
“Incidents are being prioritised and dealt with as quickly as possible. Members of the public are asked to be patient during these weather conditions and to avoid road travel until the conditions improve.”
Scores of residents experienced difficulties with power supplies, particularly those living in the region’s more rural areas. Utility companies were said to be working flat out to ensure normal service was resumed as early as possible.
Commuters hoping to use public transport to start what was, for many, the first working day of 2012 were left stranded at bus and train stations following severe disruption to services.
Traffic information can be found at the website www.trafficscotland.org
Do you have photos of the havoc wreaked by the gales? Send them by email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org