Scotland Hit By 165mph Winds As Twitter Dubs Storm 'Hurricane Bawbag' (Photos) (Video)
Scotland and northern England have been hit with winds of up to 165mph, leaving thousands without power and shutting down schools and airports, closing roads and cancelling trains as far south as Newcastle.
The Met Office issued a red weather warning alert as the severe winds battered rush-hour traffic.
In the Aonach Mor, near to Fort William, gusts of 130mph were recorded. The Met Office said the winds reached between Gale Force 8 and strength 11 in places.
Even as the storm hit, however, users of Twitter found time to see the lighter side. They dubbed the winds 'Hurricane Bawbag' and by 3pm it was possible to buy T-shirts marking the occasion.
In Strathclyde, Central Scotland, Borders, Dumfries and Galloway police asked people not to travel as bridges and roads were forced to shut. The Forth Bridge and the Erskine Bridge have closed. ScotRail was forced to cancel services, while Network Rail imposed speed restrictions and said up to 350 staff members were attempting to complete repairs.
Live video from webcams showed bridges in central Glasgow swaying in the wind.
Flooding in Cumbria close to Lake Windermere left some cars adrift in water, while in Wales and Northern Ireland strong winds and heavy rain were also reported.
On the Western Isles many were left without electricity according to Scottish Hydro. The company said that the weather was too bad for staff to climb electricity poles to restore power.
Central Scotland Police Assistant Chief Constable Allan Moffat, speaking to the BBC for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said: "The advice for motorists across the central belt of Scotland is to avoid travel, as the severe weather moves across the country from west to east, starting around noon on the west side of the country.
"It is expected that the impact of the weather will affect the east side of the country from 2pm onwards.
"This advice to avoid travel is not given lightly but is based on the clearest information yet from weather forecasters that there will be high winds with gusts of up to 90 miles per hour."
The Scottish government's resilience committee met on Thursday after five meetings on Wednesday to discuss the response to the weather.