All schools and nurseries in the Western Isles will be closed tomorrow, Friday 9th January.

Many other council facilities will also be closed, at least until midday.

The Emergency Planning Group for the Western Isles, WIEPCG, met today at midday to discuss the severe weather forecast for the Islands on Thursday 8th January and Friday 9th January.

High winds are expected with gusts of up to 100mph.

An amber warning has been issued.

Buses will be running a limited service as follows:Thursday 8th January – The last public buses departing Stornoway expected to operate will be the 7:30pm Ness/Westside, 7:35pm North Lochs, 7:40pm Point and 7:40pm Tolsta.

Thursday 8th January – The 8:45pm Balivanich to Lochboisdale and 9pm Balivanich to Lochmaddy will be cancelled.

 All daytime public bus services across the whole region from early morning to around 12 noon on Friday 9th January 2015 will be cancelled.

 All school transport bus services across the whole region on Friday 9th January will be cancelled

Public bus services operating after 12 noon on Friday 9th January may be subject to delay or possible cancellation at short notice. Passengers are advised to contact bus operators directly using the contact phone numbers with the current public bus timetables. Timetables are available on the Comhairle website.

In addition, sports and leisure facilities in the Western Isles will close tonight at 8pm and are expected to be closed tomorrow with the exception of Lewis Sports Centre which is expected to open at midday. Libraries are also expected to be open by 12pm.

Homecare service will be affected as follows:  Evening care visits adjusted on Thursday evening to allow staff to get home by 10pm. All service users or representatives have been contacted and contingency plans agreed for overnight support and visits on Friday morning.

 The decisions followed the notification of severe weather which was received from the Met Office which is valid from 22:00 on Thursday 8th January until 10:00 on Friday 9th January –

 "A vigorous depression is expected to run rapidly east passing northern Scotland on Thursday night and Friday morning.

"Winds will begin to increase late on Thursday to give a period of very strong westerly winds across the Western Isles, the north and northwest of the Scottish mainland and Orkney.

 "Gusts of 80 to 90 mph are likely quite widely with a risk of gusts of over 100 mph in places, with these strongest gusts most likely along coasts in the far north.  Winds should quickly ease from the west during the morning.”

The forecast peak is between midnight and 4am on Friday morning with winds easing towards the end of the warning period.

SEPA have issued the following statement  ‘Typical flooding impacts are likely to include spray and wave overtopping at periods of high tide. Flooding affecting properties and communities could occur, especially in the far northwest nut the likelihood of this is currently thought to be low. The greatest risk is currently associated with Friday.”

Power supply company SSE is on yellow alert and has put in place its contingency plans, ensuring optimum staffing levels to deal with any damage the storm may cause to the electricity network.

 Any customers who lose their electricity supply are urged to contact SSE on 0800 300 999 to report damage or highlight neighbours or friends who may need extra help.

 CnES Roads staff and Police will be monitoring all causeways.

 The public are advised to secure any lose debris. The construction industry is advised to secure scaffolding and any lose items on building sites.

The Comhairle would ask family, neighbours and friends living nearby to assist and support elderly and vulnerable people.