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Last Updated: Friday, 29 December 2006, 22:19 GMT
Country braced for stormy weather
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Forecasters are predicting storm-force winds
Scotland is bracing itself for stormy weather as forecasters predict strong winds over the New Year holiday.

Organisers of Edinburgh's and Glasgow's Hogmanay parties - where more than 125,000 people are expected - are monitoring weather reports carefully.

Storm force winds are likely in the early hours of Saturday with storms returning on New Year's Eve when gusts are expected to reach 70 to 80mph.

Dozens of ferry sailings were cancelled on Friday due to adverse conditions.

Caledonian MacBrayne said Clyde crossings were affected along with those in Skye and the Western Isles.

Gales predicted

The company hopes to resume some services if the weather improves but passengers are being advised to check with CalMac's website for the latest information, or contact ferry terminals directly.

In the afternoon a cargo vessel lost 20 empty containers overboard in force 10 winds with very rough seas eight miles east of Stronsay, Orkney.

Shetland Coastguard issued a warning to vessels that the containers posed a severe hazard to navigation in the area.

BBC weather forecaster Gail McGrane said winds would increase to gale force on Friday night reaching storm force at about 0300 GMT to 0400 GMT in Glasgow and 0400 GMT to 0500 GMT in Edinburgh.

It will become windy with severe gales and the potential for damaging gusts
Gail McGrane
BBC weather forecaster

However, she said that by Saturday morning the worst of the weather would be in the Northern Isles and improving elsewhere.

By Saturday night there will be the risk of frost and ice.

She added that severe gales would also be lingering in Shetland on Saturday.

Hogmanay will start off wet in the south west, pushing northwards by the afternoon.

Ms McGrane said: "It will also become windy with severe gales and the potential for damaging gusts.

"The strongest winds will be through the central belt mid to late evening."

There would have to be severe gales on the night for the event to be cancelled
Edinburgh Hogmanay spokesman

She said Aberdeenshire would be affected by the winds at about midnight.

New Year revellers are being advised to wrap up and prepare for wet and cold weather.

In 2003, Edinburgh's Hogmanay party was cancelled at the last minute because of stormy weather, disappointing tens of thousands of people.

Organisers of this year's event said there were no plans to cancel the extravaganza.

'Not fantastic'

A spokesman said: "We are aware that the forecast is not fantastic.

"However, there has been increased equipment put in place to cope with bad weather.

"There would have to be severe gales on the night for the event to be cancelled."

He added: "Our first priority is the safety of the public and the final decision will be made on Sunday."

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said Glasgow's showpiece event in George Square should be unaffected by strong weather.

He added that contingencies were in place if any parts of the event were cancelled.

Drivers have also been warned to be prepared for changes in weather conditions.

Neil Greig, of the AA Motoring Trust, said: "Give yourself extra time so you're not speeding to catch a ferry, for example.

"If you are in a high-sided vehicle like a 4x4 or a people carrier, they are much more likely to be affected by wind.

"Make sure your car is prepared for a long, hard drive."

Preparations are going ahead for Hogmanay

Edinburgh confident for Hogmanay
29 Dec 06 |  Edinburgh and East
Hogmanay preparations under way
29 Dec 06 |  Glasgow and West
Hogmanay weather warning issued
28 Dec 06 |  Scotland
Thousands on streets for Hogmanay
01 Jan 06 |  Scotland


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