09/12/2011 01:41 GMT | Updated 09/12/2011 04:29 GMT

Scottish 'Hurricane Bawbag' To Ease Off As 165mph Winds Batter Norther Britain

Hurricane-force winds which closed schools, cut off power to tens of thousands of homes, and forced rescue missions in parts of Britain are expected to ease off.

Scotland and northern England were the worst-affected areas with a top wind speed of 165mph recorded on the summit of the Cairngorms in Aberdeenshire on Thursday, the Met Office said.

But forecasters expected some respite, with the worst of the winds confined to north-east Scotland and the Shetland Isles.

Thousands of schools across all but six of Scotland's 32 local authorities were shut by lunchtime on Thursday to allow pupils to get home safely, while police urged motorists to avoid the roads altogether.

Two people were rescued by the RAF from a partially-submerged car near Aysgarth, North Yorkshire, and airlifted to hospital after being trapped in rising water from a swollen river. They were airlifted to hospital with suspected hypothermia, emergency services said. Police said the bridge at Grinton near Reeth had partially collapsed and was closed.

Cumbria saw heavy rain, and police said they received several calls from motorists stuck in floodwater in Ambleside, Windermere, Troutbeck and Selside. The Environment Agency issued seven flood alerts at different locations on 12 rivers and lakes in the county.

The Scottish Government said more than 60,000 homes were without power. ScottishPower said on Thursday night that it had reconnected more than 18,000 customers who had lost power, while Scottish Hydro said it had more than 50,000 customers without power and it expected the number to increase overnight before things got better.

A wind turbine at Ardrossan Wind Farm, near the A78 in North Ayrshire, was destroyed after it caught fire. Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service said it had a high number of calls as the 328ft (100m) tall turbine could be seen "far and wide".

However, the high-speed winds are expected to ease by the morning throughout most of the UK. Lindsay Dovey, a forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "We're expecting wintry showers in the north and west of Britain. The biggest winds will be in north-east Scotland and the Shetland Isles, with gusts of up to 70mph."

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings - for the Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, north-west England, Northern Ireland and much of Scotland - advising people to be aware of icy conditions.