Moray has been hit overnight by rising gale force winds and rain, prompting Police Scotland and the Scottish Government to warn motorists to take great care.
Flood warnings have also been issued with the Met Office moving to an Amber ‘be prepared’ status for most of Scotland.
The Met Office warning started from 2am this morning (Thursday) and says that the severe weather currently being experienced is likely to last throughout the day, with wind speeds likely to exceed 80mph.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have also issued a number of Flood Alerts and Warnings, with a focus on potential coastal flooding on east and west coasts including along the Moray Firth through Thursday and into Friday.
The Scottish Government’s Resilience operation has been activated to liaise with authorities and organisations across the country and to co-ordinate any activity as required. Ministers are being kept fully briefed on developments.
Police Scotland have advised drivers that from early morning the conditions for road travel are likely to be extremely poor and there is a high risk of disruption for road journeys across Scotland.
Police are telling drivers that if they do travel, they are likely to experience significant delays due to high winds and driving rain creating surface water and an increased risk of flash flooding on many roads.
Network Rail, who will have hundreds of engineers out across the network ready to react to problems and clear fallen trees, have told commuters that service levels and speeds will being reduced as a safety precaution when winds are at their peak.
Passengers should check before they travel, as some routes and stations will not be served tomorrow until the worst of the gale force winds have passed.
Air passengers are advised to check with airports and airlines before travelling.
Power companies are also monitoring the forecasts carefully and have engineers ready to take action across the country to deal with any power line issues or general supply disruption.
Scottish Government Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “The Scottish Government and Transport Scotland are working closely with transport operators, the Met office, Police Scotland, SEPA and many other agencies and organisations to make sure that the most useful and up to date information is given to those who need it most.
“We have held a number of meetings with key partners already and both the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGoRR) and Transport Scotland’s multi-agency response team (MART) are operational.
“I would urge the travelling public to consider the conditions before they set-off on their journeys. Indications are that bridges across the country will be affected by the strong winds and closures are expected during the morning peak period.
“People should listen to radio reports or visit the Traffic Scotland website or twitter feed, and carefully consider police advice. Trains and ferries will also be disrupted and operator websites will have the latest information.”
Graeme Forrester, Senior Met Office Advisor, said: “We are working closely with emergency responders in Scotland, including our partners within Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, to ensure that everyone can prepare for the expected severe weather.
“We currently have an advisor sitting within the Control Centre at South Queensferry who is able to give up-to-date advice to the team in order to keep Scotland’s roads as clear and as safe as possible during this relatively short-lived period of severe weather.
“The worst of the conditions are forecast in the Highlands and northern Scotland with winds of up to 80mph possible. However, parts of the central belt will also be affected by some very strong winds during Thursday morning’s rush hour period.”