Schools shut early as town is hit by rain and gale force winds

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SCHOOLS were closed at lunch-time yesterday as the town was battered by gale force winds and rain.

For the first time ever a red warning was issued by the Met Office for the Borders as gusts of up to 90mph hit the whole of southern Scotland.

It had been intimated that schools would either close earlier or later “in the interests of pupil safety”. But by Wednesday night the decision was taken to send all pupils home at midday.

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said: “The decision was made following the information from police, our transport providers and the Met Office.”

Red warnings for wind are very rare – with only one or two a year issued and these are more common for snow and ice warnings.

A yellow flood alert warning was also issued for the Borders, with heavy rain and snow melt also expected this morning.

And, in the interest of public safety, community councils were given instructions to switch off all festive lighting “until further notice”.

At the time of going to press yesterday afternoon, the storms were set to peak, with the whole town on flood alert – on Thursday morning the river at Tevoithead was rising by two feet an hour. Officials were also bracing themselves for travel disruption on the region’s roads and widespread damage caused by the storms.

The spokesperson added: “Before travelling, you should check the Traffic Scotland website at http://trafficscotland.org/ for up-to-date information. Whilst travelling drivers should note the information on the variable message signs and listen to radio reports for updates.”

While experts were predicting winds will be less strong today, they said it will still be very blustery with the risk of snow.