Storm Caroline has hit the UK - this is a taste of the weather that could be heading our way
Severe gales and snow showers caused travel disruption, school closures and left thousands of people without power as Storm Caroline swept in to the UK.
Forecasters had earlier warned of a danger to life, with gusts of up to 90mph possible in northern parts of Scotland.
Flights and ferry services were cancelled while dozens of schools were closed across the north of the country.
Rail passengers also faced disruption, with trains cancelled after a trampoline blew onto the line in East Renfrewshire and services suspended elsewhere.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said power had been safely restored to more than 11,500 customers, mainly on the Western Isles and north-west Highlands, with about 4,600 homes, mainly in Caithness, Orkne y and Shetland without power as of 4pm on Thursday.
SSEN said wind gusts in excess of 85mph were recorded in the Western Isles while Mountaineering Scotland tweeted that a gust of 116mph was recorded on Cairngorm.
A 73mph gust was recorded at Stornoway Airport while a 69mph gust was measured at Altnaharra in Sutherland and 68mph in South Uist on Thursday morning, the Met Office said.
The Daily Record reports that more than 30 youngsters on board a school bus in Orkney had a "lucky escape" when it broke down in Storm Caroline.
Huge waves broke over the sea wall and battered the bus.
The children who attended Kirkwall Grammar School were rescued by a 4x4 in a dramatic operation.
Former long serving Kirkwall Lifeboat coxswain Geoff Gardens came across the rescue.
"In all my years this is the worst weather I have seen for many a day. The children were very lucky," said Mr Gardens, 65, a coxswain of a pilot boat.
Met Office meteorologist John West said: "Storm Caroline is well on its way across northern parts of the UK.
"There will be devastating winds in some parts. More broadly across Scotland there will be 60mph-70mph gusts, but in exposed areas we could see 90mph."
The strong wind warning is valid from 6am until 11.55pm on Thursday, with an amber warning for northern Scotland.
The Met Office has warned of flying debris that could lead to injuries or danger to life while damage to property is also possible.
A yellow "be aware" warning is in force for the southern half of Scotland and parts of the north of Northern Ireland between 6am and 6pm as well.
All schools and nurseries in Lewis, Harris and Uist in the Western Isles are closed to pupils on Thursday as a precaution while 31 primary schools, five secondary schools and 19 nurseries in the Highland Council area and two schools in Aberdeenshire are shut.
A number of Scottish rail services were returning to normal by early evening.
Mark Ilderton, head of integrated control at the ScotRail Alliance, said: "The safety of our staff and customers remains our top priority, and it's on that basis that we take decisions about services during extreme weather.
"Following a reduction in wind speeds in some areas of the country, services between Glasgow Queen Street and Fort William, Oban and Mallaig have now resumed. There will continue to be disruption as we work to get things back to normal.
"Wind speeds remain too hig h in the very north of Scotland, which is why services to Wick, Thurso and Kyle of Lochalsh remain suspended. It is not safe for services to resume in that part of the country.
"We are carrying out safety checks on the Aberdeen-Inverness line to determine if it is safe to resume services there."
Some flights in the Western Isles were cancelled.
Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services between Tarbert and Lochranza, Oban and Tiree via Coll and Ullapool and Stornoway were cancelled for the rest of the day while many other routes are facing disruption.
The Forth Road Bridge and Tay Road Bridge were closed to double-decker buses while the Skye and Kessock bridges were closed to high-sided vehicles.
A North Sea platform shut down production due to safety fears over weather conditions caused by Storm Caroline.
There have been snow showers across high ground in Scotland.
During Thursday afternoon, a mixture of sleet and snow showers will work their way across the whole of Britain, with the potential for blizzard conditions in Scotland.
Forecasters have issued a yellow severe weather warning for snow and ice on Friday which covers much of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and parts of northern and western England.
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