Road chaos warning as city braces itself for blizzards
WEATHER experts have been predicting for months that one of the harshest winters for 50 years is looming.
Now their forecast could be about to come true, with the first blizzards expected to hit the Lothians tomorrow.
Up to eight inches of snow is predicted to fall in some parts over the next three days, with falls being driven by freezing winds sweeping down the east coast from the Arctic.
The Met Office and police today issued a severe weather warning for the area. East Lothian, which is expected to bear the brunt of the icy blast, has been given a 60 per cent chance of experiencing disruption, such as road closures, with Edinburgh at 50 per cent and West Lothian at 30 per cent.
Motorists have been issued with a warning by police that driving conditions are set to become treacherous as blizzards threaten to disrupt roads in the Lothians.
Snow is expected to start falling tomorrow evening, turning to sleet on Friday, and continuing until Saturday.
The police force's traffic branch has mobilised its fleet of 4x4 units to respond to any road closures and trapped cars.
Extra vehicles may be hired and given temporary police markings if the Capital is struck by particularly heavy snowfall.
Meanwhile, the city council's gritting trucks have been placed on standby in a bid to keep Edinburgh's traffic network running. Forecasters have also cautioned that Saturday's rugby inter- national between Scotland and New Zealand at Murrayfield and Sunday's Easter Road clash between Hibs and Rangers could be affected by snow.
But Edinburgh Airport chiefs said today they were confident the adverse weather would not cause any delays to flights.
Inspector Colin Shillito, from the traffic branch at police HQ, warned motorists to take special care.
He said: "We would ask people not to make any journeys which are unnecessary while there is a severe weather warning. If a journey is essential then be prepared with warm clothing and a mobile phone. Drivers should also leave enough time so they are not in a rush and leave contact numbers so they can be reached.
"With poorer visibility and less adhesion to the road surface, drivers should be travelling slower and leaving larger gaps than normal between the vehicle in front. It's better to arrive five minutes late than not to arrive at all.
"We are gearing up to deal with any road closures or other problems while Amey are gearing up to clear any snow on the major trunk roads."
Bosses from Amey, the firm responsible for maintaining routes including the City Bypass and the M8, will use global positioning satellite systems to co-ordinate their efforts.
A council spokeswoman said: "The council has up to 40 people and 26 gritters, which also work as snow ploughs, and ten mini- tractors available for any given shift.
"We receive detailed forecasts from the Met Office and will monitor the weather and road conditions and deploy staff and vehicles as necessary."
A BAA spokeswoman said: "We're not expecting any delays at Edinburgh Airport and we're not making any special preparations. If the weather worsens then we're more than used to dealing with such situations."
A Met Office spokeswoman said: "On Wednesday night the wind will swing round in a northerly direction, bringing an Arctic chill.
"By Thursday there could be flurries of snow in the Lothians, particularly in East Lothian, which is more exposed than Edinburgh. The biggest risk of disruption from snow and blizzards in the city is on Thursday night.
"Then on Friday the snow will be more slushy and sleety.
"The rugby and football could be disrupted with a weather front due to move through on Saturday morning. Murrayfield and Easter Road are near sea level but snow can't be discounted."
Temperatures are expected to drop to around 5C during the day on Thursday and Friday, plummeting to -3C during the night, but the winds will make it seem much colder.
Traffic branch commander Superintendent Phil O'Kane said owners should check their cars to make sure they are suitable for the harsh conditions. He added: "Drivers have a responsibility to make sure their vehicle is well maintained over the winter and to ensure it is roadworthy.
"Make sure your vehicle is serviced and get your tyres checked before the winter weather hits. Top up water and oil and buy de-icer."
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North