ALL schools in Orkney will close early due to high winds forecast to hit the islands as Storm Arwen rolls in.

Schools will close at 1pm on Friday as an amber weather warning is in place for high winds across Orkney and large parts of mainland Scotland.

Orkney has two senior secondary schools located in Kirkwall and Stromness, four junior high schools and 17 primary schools.

There are around 3000 students across Orkney's schools.

Storm Arwen - the first named storm of the season - is bringing winds of up to 75mph and the amber warning is in place from 3pm on Friday until 9am on Saturday morning.

Snow is also expected across the high grounds of Scotland and northern England with a yellow warning in force for Scotland on Friday.

The Orkney Local Emergency Co-ordination Group (OLECG) met this afternoon with services on call throughout the weekend to deal with any issues as they arise.

David Hall, Police Scotland Area Inspector for Orkney, chaired the meeting. He said: “Although we are all well used to bad weather at this time of year, the strength of winds we are expecting could bring additional disruption, particularly to our transport networks.

“Winds are expected to peak in the mid-afternoon, with heavy rain also expected.

“I’d encourage local people to plan any journeys accordingly and consider staying at home if you can – if you can’t, make sure and update yourself before you leave home with the latest news from the transport providers.

“Emergency response services – including Orkney Islands Council and SSEN – are on standby to deal with any weather-related issues and we will continue to monitor the situation throughout tomorrow.”

READ MORE: Storm Arwen set to hit Scotland this week - everything you need to know

Hall added: “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 – and dial 105 to report any power issues.

“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.”


The National:

A Met Office spokesman said: "Storm Arwen has been named on the back of a deep low-pressure system moving to the north-east of the UK, which has brought about our amber wind warning on Friday.

“The worst affected areas will predominantly be on the coasts, with gusts of over 75mph bringing possible disruption to travel and longer journey times, power cuts, flying debris and large waves with beach material being thrown around.

“There is also a yellow warning of wind in place along the west coast of the UK from 9am on Friday, stretching from Scotland, through Northern Ireland and Wales and as far as south-west England.

“This reflects the impact Storm Arwen will have, with strong winds likely to occur into Saturday, when the warning is extended to most parts of the UK."

He said Storm Arwen is moving in from the North Sea and will begin to travel south before easing on Sunday.