Warnings of disruption to road, rail and ferry transport in Scotland have been issued as Storm Caroline strikes and wintry weather is due in its wake.
The Met Office has amber “be prepared” and yellow “be aware” warnings in place for Thursday’s storm for Scotland.
Yellow warnings have been issued for snow, ice and wind on Friday and Saturday for large parts of the UK.
Scotland’s transport minister, Humza Yousaf, said the country faced “challenging conditions”.
The Met Office has updated its yellow warning for snow and ice on Thursday to include southern Scotland and Northern Ireland.
All schools on Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in the Western Isles have been closed to pupils as a precaution.
Electricity company SSE Networks said about 2,000 of its customers in the Western Isles had been affected by power cuts, before supplies were restored.
In the Highland Council area, more than 50 schools, which include nurseries, primary and secondary schools, have been closed because of the weather.
All schools in Orkney are closed at 11:30. In Shetland all schools are closing at lunchtime and will remain shut on Friday.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has 10 flood alerts and 11 flood warnings in place for areas including Ayrshire, Lochaber, Caithness and Sutherland.
ScotRail Alliance said that because of the Met Office forecast for winds gusting to up to 90mph in some areas, it had suspended the following services:
- Aberdeen to Inverness
- Inverness to Wick
- Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
- Glasgow Queen Street to Oban/Fort William/Mallaig
Speed restrictions will also be in place for services between Perth and Aberdeen and Perth and Inverness as winds of up to 60 mph are expected in areas those routes pass through.
ScotRail Alliance said this would mean trains would be slower and services would be disrupted.
Rail services between Glasgow Central and Neilston were disrupted for almost two hours after a trampoline blew onto the track at Patterton in East Renfrewshire.
Ferry operators Caledonian MacBrayne and Serco Northlink have warned of cancellations and disruption to routes on Scotland’s west and north coasts.
Ferry sailings to and from Shetland were cancelled on Thursday night.
Serco Northlink is also advising customers that both of Friday’s passenger sailings from Lerwick and Aberdeen are under review with a high probability of cancellations.
Due to concerns about large waves during the storm, all personnel have been taken off the North Sea platform Ninian Southern off Shetland and production shut down.
CairnGorm Mountain snowsports centre near Aviemore said it would be closed on Thursday because of the expected high winds.
The Scottish government held a resilience meeting on Wednesday to discuss the impact of the storm.
Mr Yousaf said: “We are facing some challenging weather conditions in the next few days as a result of Storm Caroline and we will be working closely with our partners to try to mitigate the worst of these and get information out to the public so that they can plan their journeys.
“Disruption is very likely but we will make every effort to recover the network as quickly as possible when incidents do occur.”
He said strong winds were likely to result in restrictions and closures on road bridges on Thursday morning.
Mr Yousaf added: “Moving forward, snow and ice will become more of a feature of the storm and our gritters and patrols will be out across the network.
“There is plenty of salt available and new vehicles are being trialled to improve our response. Our gritter tracker is back online so that people can see where our gritters have been out in their area.”
Graeme Macfarlan, commercial director of CalMac, said disruption to ferry services on Thursday was “a high possibility”.
He said: “We would urge passengers who need to travel, to allow extra time for their journey and to keep track of the status of their sailing on the website before setting out on their journey.”