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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 06:34 GMT
Scotland braced for more storms
Parts of Scotland were battered by last week's storm
A weather alert has been issued with high winds and snow hitting the Western Isles and other parts of Scotland.

North and western areas are to be hit by winds gusting up to 70mph, with snow falling over much of Scotland.

Fife and the central belt are worst affected, with a number of roads passable only with care. Gritters have been out.

The M77, M8 and M74 have already been hit by snow and ice, as have surrounding roads.

Northern Constabulary said it was offering precautionary advice to people on the Western Isles based on information received from Stornoway Coastguard. The severe weather warning applies until Tuesday.

Schools shut

The A82 at Glencoe is also affected by snow and police have advised motorists to take extra caution.

Police are appealing for people to secure any garden materials which may be unstable following last week's gales.

"The public should be aware that any storm debris which may not have been cleared away may pose a risk to safety if the winds are as strong as predicted," the force said.

All schools in the Western Isles are to close on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, experts studying the seas off the west coast are warning of more devastating weather of the type which caused havoc in Scotland last week.

There may be an economic cost for Scotland in that the lifeline subsidy is already quite high
John Coll

They predict that damaging storms will become more frequent.

Researchers from the University of the Highlands and Islands and Southampton have been looking at wave heights in the Atlantic over the last nine years.

The project was conducted jointly by the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso, which is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Millennium Institute network, and the Southampton Oceanography Centre.

Scientists carried out a series of studies, including the use of satellites to assess wave heights in the seas around the west coast and the Hebrides.

Atlantic cyclones

They found that high seas were causing more frequent disruption to communities and transport networks.

They have produced their findings alongside a clear pattern in recent decades of more frequent and more intense Atlantic cyclones

Their findings highlighted the possibility of the Scottish Executive having to offer larger subsidies to provide bigger ferries on lifeline routes to avoid increasing disruption.

Snow on M8
Snow is making driving conditions treacherous

Expert John Coll explained: "We've worked in partnership with (ferry company) Caledonian MacBrayne. We've been looking at two sailings in relation to wave heights along these routes.

"Should there be a deterioration in wave height associated with wider warming, we can expect more disruption for these sailings.

"There may be an economic cost for Scotland in that the lifeline subsidy is already quite high.

'Social cost'

"If the intensity of this recent storm is repeated with greater frequency in the future, the level of subsidy may have to rise to provide bigger boats to protect timetables and maintain communities.

"The other possibility is that there may be a social cost for communities if they are subject to more isolation caused by being cut off for longer periods of time by these weather events."

The researchers' work is continuing and is being co-ordinated by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, a network of more than 200 researchers working on ways to minimise the risks posed by climate change.

See the damage caused by the storms in Scotland

Schools reopen after isle tragedy
17 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Chances of flooding 'rising fast'
10 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Severe weather batters Scotland
08 Jan 05 |  Scotland


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