Severe storms and high winds caused widespread disruption to parts of Scotland on Thursday, leaving thousands without power, causing roads and schools to close and hitting air travel.

The Met office issued a red alert warning, after winds of up to 150 mph were recorded on Thursday.

It is not usual to have this type of weather hitting the northern parts of Scotland, but these storms have moved to affect more densely populated areas, a spokesman at the Met Office said.

There is serious risk of disruption to travel and the Forth road bridge has been closed.

Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said all parts of country were experiencing very heavy winds with the central belt and southern Scotland facing particularly severe weather conditions.

Schools were either closed to pupils all day or were forced to close early, she said in a statement.

Edinburgh and Glasgow airports said a number of flights had been cancelled or delayed due to high winds.

Widespread travel restrictions have been put in place and police told people to avoid driving on the roads across central Scotland from midday till 7 p.m.

The Met office said there was a possibility of snow later in the evening, but that winds were expected to die down after the red alert warning elapsed at 9 p.m.

Windspeeds recorded on Thursday were not far off the highest windspeed recorded in Scotland at 173mph on 20 March 1986 at Cairngorm point.

(Editing by Stefano Ambrogi)