Storm Gertrude hits Bute ferry services - and more high winds to come on Monday

MVs Bute and Argyle tied up at Rothesay pier on the morning of Friday, January 29.
MVs Bute and Argyle tied up at Rothesay pier on the morning of Friday, January 29.

Both Bute’s ferry services were suspended on Friday morning as Storm Gertrude struck large parts of the UK.

CalMac Ferries announced on Thursday night that the first two return sailings on the Rothesay-Gourock route on Friday would be cancelled due to forecast high winds - and following a further review at 8am, the service will remain suspended until at least 10.45am.

The Rhubodach-Colintraive route was also suspended from the start of service at 5.30am.

CalMac issued a service update at 10.40am announcing that the short Kyles crossing had resumed, but with sailings “as and when possible” and the service still on ‘amber alert’, meaning it remains liable to disruption, delay and cancellation.

That made the Colintraive ferry, MV Loch Dunvegan, the first CalMac vessel to put to sea on Friday as winds of up to 90mph struck the west coast of Scotland, while closer to home, Western Ferries’ Dunoon crossings have also been suspended until 12.30pm.

However, all Bute’s schools, roads and public services remain open, and police in Rothesay have received no reports of any fallen trees or structural damage to buildings, with stray wheelie bins the only hazard on the roads and pavements.

West or south-westerly gusts in Rothesay are not expected to dip below 45mph for the rest of the day, and should be stronger than that in both the late morning and the evening.

In addition SEPA has issued a general Flood Alert for the Argyll and Bute area, warning that some coastal flooding is likely in exposed locations (though Bute is not mentioned specifically) and advising people to be particularly careful at high tide - which, in Rothesay, is predicted to reach 3.6 metres shorly before 3.30pm.

Gusts of up to 50mph are also likely through most of Saturday, when snow and ice are expected to add to the mix, with the ‘wind chill’ factor making it feel several degrees below freezing.

A yellow ‘be aware’ warning for wind and snow in Argyll and Bute, already in place until 6pm on Saturday, has been updated to amber ‘be prepared’ status from 6pm on Friday until 11am on Saturday.

And there’s more wind-related disruption to come: the Met Office has issued a yellow ‘be aware’ alert for the Argyll and Bute area which is valid for the whole of Monday, February 1.

Wind speeds in Rothesay are forecast to be in excess of 50mph for most of the day on Monday, and could reach 70mph in the afternoon and early evening, with heavy rain showers also likely throughout the day.