Devolution 9 December 2011 Strong winds hit Scotland: in pictures 165mph hurricane-strength winds close schools and leave thousands without power. Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML All photos: Getty Images The worst storm in a decade struck Scotland yesterday, leaving 150,000 homes without power and forcing schools, public buildings and businesses in all parts of the country -- including Glasgow and Edinburgh -- to close. The extreme winds, caused by a rapid drop in air pressure over the northern half of the UK, reached up to 165mph -- the speed of a Force 12 hurricane. Cancelled trains, flights and ferries left hundreds of passengers stranded in railway stations and airports across Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Scottish government has today advised people in central areas to avoid travelling, and warned that some homes may not have their electricity reconnected until early next week. Over 70,000 Scottish Hydro customers are currently without power. Some of the worst disruption has been caused across the Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Orkney, where there are fears today the islands will suffer further damage from high tides. A major search and rescue operation was this morning launched in the Cairngorms for five hill-walkers who had not been heard from since Wednesday. A Royal Navy helicopter was used in the land and air search for the men, who have since been found safe. › Where does Clegg stand? Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman. Subscribe from just £1 per issue More Related articles Why isn't Labour putting forward Corbynite candidates? Europe's elections show why liberals should avoid fatalism Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan are both slippery self-mythologisers – so why do we rate one more than the other?