Scotland was battered by a triple whammy of hurricane-strength winds, torrential rain and driving snow today forcing the closure of schools and causing problems on roads and communications.

The far north and north west bore the brunt of the weather as the storm tore in from the Atlantic this morning.

And tonight Strathclyde police advised drivers not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

One amateur weather station at Ness on the Isle of Lewis recorded a Hurricane gust of 91mph with more heavy weather expected tonight.

Schools and many businesses in the Western Isles closed at lunchtime to prepare for the high winds and heavy rains.

While the Northern Isles and Hebrides were facing winds of up to 90mph the central belt experiencing winds of 60-70mph on Thursday evening.

Strathclyde police said that with severe winds and heavy rain battering the force area, more than 50 incidents had been reported to control rooms, including HGVs and vans blowing over, trees falling down and unsafe buildings losing debris.

The M77 at Maidenhill to the A726 at Bellcraigs Interchange has been closed to high-sided vehicles for the time being, as has the Erskine Bridge.

The road between Peat Road roundabout and Crookston Road in the Glasgow area has also been closed due to a dangerous building on Barrhead Road. Numerous other roads and areas have also already been affected.

Police said that there was heavy congestion on all motorways in the force area.

They advised drivers of high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes to take extra care when travelling due to the increased risk of being blown over.

Motorists faced treacherous conditions this morning when blizzards and low temperatures left roads covered in ice.

The A9 was closed for a time, as was the A93 at Braemar, while the main bridges throughout the country were restricted or closed.

Ferry services to the Western Isles and Northern Isles also faced severe disruption.

The Met Office issued severe weather warnings of heavy snow across most of the country.

The Scottish Government activated its multi-agency response to the weather and said more than 115 winter vehicles were on hand.

In Central Scotland and Perth and Kinross drivers were warned of localised flooding.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) had 14 flood watches in place for rivers in areas including Argyll, Falkirk, Fife and the Upper Tay.

Snow also caused problems, affecting some roads in northern Scotland.

Northern Constabulary said the A9 from the Drumossie Brae south was treacherous with whiteout conditions and gale-force winds.

The A835 Ullapool to Dingwall road was affected by drifting snow and gale-force winds but was passable with care.

Police warned that high winds, snow and rain are expected to continue to affect the area throughout the evening and advised drivers to use extra caution and consider postponing their journey.

The Scottish Government has activated its multi-agency response to the weather and more than 115 winter vehicles are ready to deal with the conditions.

The Scottish Government's Resilience Room has also been activated to manage the winter response with input from Scotland's emergency services, Sepa, Transport Scotland, road and rail operators.

Transport minister Keith Brown said: "We are urging drivers to be aware of the forecast snowy conditions across parts of Scotland, and to heed police travel advice, planning their journeys in advance.

"We are also expecting high winds, therefore we ask drivers to take extra caution when driving through exposed areas."

Forecasters said that the winds will continue tonight but should ease tomorrow.

Billy Payne, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather forecasting arm of the Press Association, said: "The worst bits so far have been across the more exposed western parts. This afternoon and into tonight western and northern parts have seen 70-80mph gusts and locally above 90mph.

"Mainland Scotland has seen 60-70mph gusts and in places 80mph along the northern coasts.

"There is also heavy rain spreading in.

"Tomorrow it will be not quite as windy but still very wet with more heavy rain to come."