100mph winds leave Fifers counting cost

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THE effects of this week’s dramatic weather are still being felt throughout north east Fife and Kinross-shire as householders and businesses continue to count the cost of wrecked crops, damaged vehicles and ruined holidays.

Some were beginning to wonder if American evangelist Harold Camping’s bizarre apocalyptic predictions could contain a grain of truth as winds reached speeds of almost 100mph and the sky turned an unearthly shade of brown as a result of the fallout from the Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland.

At the height of the storm on Monday, Fife Police received almost 1800 calls at their contact centre in Glenrothes, an increase of more than 500 on the usual number.

Most concerned fallen trees blocking roads, and although in Fife there were no reports of serious injuries, in Kinross-shire a couple had to be treated in hospital when a tree fell on their car on the A91 just outside Milnathort.

Such was the force of the wind that the numerous arboreal casualties was a 300-year-old beech tree blown over at Rumgally, near Kemback

Farmers, gardeners and soft fruit growers throughout the area were left counting the cost of the damage as poly-tunnels were lifted in the unseasonal conditions, causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage and leading to predictons of a shortage of strawberries and raspberries this summer.

By Tuesday the wind had subsided sufficiently for people to be able to see at first hand the volcanic ash that had closed Scottish airports and left thousands of travellers high and dry.

“I could see the cloud clearly,” said one Cupar woman. “It was an odd, pinky-brown colour and a group of us watched it as it drifted out to sea.”

However, the travel disruption proved to be good news for one local business.

Tom McMillan, founder of the Cupar-based Flightlesstravel.com, reported that the number of visitors to his website doubled in the space of just 24 hours.