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Emergency group advice as storm approaches

The multi-agency Orkney Local Emergency Co-ordinating Group (OLECG) is advising the community to be prepared for severe weather conditions.

The group met this morning in response to predictions that high winds are expected to affect Orkney later today, Thursday.

The Met Office has issued an Amber “be prepared” warning for the Northern Isles. Gusts of 70 to 80 mph are expected widely with gusts of 90 mph possible in exposed areas.

In addition, a Yellow “be aware” warning of snow and ice is in place for Friday and much of Saturday.

Chief Inspector Matt Webb, Police Scotland’s Area Commander for Orkney, chaired the OLECG meeting.

He said: “Our aim is to ensure that key agencies are prepared for eventualities linked to the severe weather conditions Orkney is likely to experience.

“Given the strength of the winds forecast, disruption and timetable changes are likely on internal and external air and ferry routes. Our advice is to keep an eye on weather forecasts and keep in touch with transport providers.

“As the forecast stands, flying debris is possible, while exposed coastal roads and causeways could be affected by spray and possible over-topping by waves.”

All schools in Orkney are closing at 11.30am today. School transport began taking pupils home at 10am.

Temporary flood prevention equipment is being deployed in St Margaret’s Hope.

Isles residents are advised that in the event of disruption to landline and mobile phone services, communication links with the Orkney Mainland will be set up at local fire stations.

Chief Inspector Webb added: “With strong winds, there is always the possibility that some homes may be affected by a loss of power. In those circumstances, we would ask friends, family and neighbours to keep an eye on people who may be experiencing problems as a result.

“We would ask that people ensure that anything that could be blown about is safely stowed away or tied down — strips of plastic or polythene, for instance, can cause power cuts if they get wrapped around power lines.”

Weather and transport updates are available on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OICUpdates and www.facebook.com/HighlandIslandsPoliceDivision/ and on the @OrkneyCouncil and @OrkneyPolice Twitter feeds. Follow the @OIC_Roads Twitter feed for updates on barrier conditions.

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