FAMILIES across the whole of Renfrewshire battened down the hatches yesterday as they were hit by hurricane-force winds and fierce rain.
Gusts reached a staggering 70mph, bringing towns and villages across the Paisley area to a standstill as people sheltered indoors.
Schoolkids were sent home from lessons, while Reid Kerr College and the University of the West of Scotland closed for the day at lunchtime.
Langbank Primary closed early as it was at risk of flooding and special schools were closed all day.
All schools in East Renfrewshire were also closed to pupils and staff.
The Met Office had issued a red alert weather warning – the highest possible – on Wednesday afternoon, which prompted education chiefs to take action.
Strathclyde Police urged people not to drive and the Erskine Bridge was closed to vehicles and pedestrians.
Bus and train services were affected and many shops pulled down the shutters early as the storm intensified.
The Renfrewshire Schools’ Christmas Concert, which had been due to take place at Paisley Town Hall last night, was also cancelled.
Councillor Lorraine Cameron, convener of Renfrewshire’s Education Policy Board, said: “The safety of our pupils is our chief concern.
“We were given a clear warning from the Met Office to expect severe weather that could damage buildings and cut power supplies.
“We realise the decision to close schools may have caused parents some inconvenience but, in these circumstances, we had no other choice, given the severity of the weather predicted.”
Renfrewshire Council transferred staff from gritting duties to clearing leaves and branches from drain covers and other flood defence work.
All Christmas lights operated by the council were turned off late yesterday afternoon as a precaution.
Last night, the Met Office said people across Renfrewshire can expect much better weather today, with sunny spells on the way, although it will be turning colder.
Council chiefs expect schools to be operating as normal today.