Hurricane-force winds which closed schools, cut off power to tens of thousands of homes, and forced rescue missions in parts of Britain are expected to ease off today.
Scotland and northern England were the worst-affected areas with a top wind speed of 165mph recorded on the summit of the Cairngorms in Aberdeenshire yesterday, the Met Office said.
But forecasters expected some respite today, with the worst of the winds confined to north-east Scotland and the Shetland Isles.
Thousands of schools across all but six of Scotland’s 32 local authorities were shut by lunchtime to allow pupils to get home safely, while police urged motorists to avoid the roads altogether.
Two people were rescued by the RAF from a partially-submerged car near Aysgarth, North Yorkshire, and airlifted to hospital after being trapped in rising water from a swollen river. They were airlifted to hospital with suspected hypothermia, emergency services said.
Police said the bridge at Grinton near Reeth had partially collapsed and was closed.
Cumbria saw heavy rain, and police said they received several calls from motorists stuck in floodwater in Ambleside, Windermere, Troutbeck and Selside. The Environment Agency issued seven flood alerts at different locations on 12 rivers and lakes in the county.
The Scottish Government said more than 60,000 homes were without power.
ScottishPower said last night that it had reconnected more than 18,000 customers who had lost power because of over 100 individual faults.
Scottish Hydro said it had more than 50,000 customers without power and it expected the number to increase overnight before things got better.
A wind turbine at Ardrossan Wind Farm, near the A78 in North Ayrshire, was destroyed after it caught fire. Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service said it had a high number of calls as the 328ft (100m) tall turbine could be seen “far and wide”.
Strong winds forced the closure of every major bridge in Scotland: the Forth Road Bridge between Edinburgh and Fife; the Erskine Bridge, which connects Renfrewshire and Dunbartonshire; the Skye Bridge; and Tay Road Bridge.
Glasgow was one of the worst-hit areas, with 71mph winds recorded at lunchtime.
The University of Glasgow and Caledonian University were closed, as were all public museums, galleries, sports centres and libraries.
Earlier a school bus overturned on the A737 in Dalry. Only the driver was on board and he escaped with minor injuries.
Wind also blew over an articulated lorry on the A87 in Glenshiel in the Highlands, but the driver was not hurt.
Flights to and from Scotland were also disrupted. Glasgow and Edinburgh each had 17 flights cancelled and a further four planes had to be diverted from Edinburgh.
Passengers were advised to check the status of their flight before going to the airport.
ScotRail put a speed restriction of 50mph in place on all trains in case of falling trees or other debris and due to the risk of damage to overhead power lines.
Trains between Aberdeen and Inverurie, Glasgow and Dunblane, and Edinburgh and Glenrothes were cancelled, while other services ran less frequently.
Strong winds gusting to force 10 were experienced in the English Channel, causing poor visibility and disruption to ferry travellers.
The Port of Dover said all services with P&O Ferries to Calais and DFDS Seaways to Dunkirk were subject to delays because of bad weather.
However, the high-speed winds are expected to ease by this morning throughout most of the UK.
Lindsay Dovey, a forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “We’re expecting wintry showers in the north and west of Britain.
“The biggest winds will be in north-east Scotland and the Shetland Isles, with gusts of up to 70mph.”
Temperatures will range between freezing and 5C in Scotland, between 3C and 6C in northern England, and between 6C and 9C elsewhere, but are expected to drop to below freezing in much of Britain tonight.
The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings - for the Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, north-west England, Northern Ireland and much of Scotland - advising people to be aware of icy conditions this morning.