THOUSANDS of homes were still without power last night after a second day of heavy snow and blizzards brought travel chaos and misery across the country.
• The storm caused damage along the promenade between Cramond and Granton. Elsewhere, drifting snow blocked roads and trapped thousands of drivers. Pictures: Ian Rutherford
Overnight, scores of motorists and lorry drivers were left stranded on several routes in the North East of Scotland as the gale-force winds blew fresh snow on to major and minor roads, causing massive disruption.
And as dawn broke, Aberdeen – with a population of around 210,000 – was left virtually cut off from the rest of the country, jack- knifed lorries blocking the main routes into Scotland's oil capital.
Fallen trees, brought down by the heavy snow and high winds, and flooded roads also added to the travel disruption from the Borders to the Highlands as police forces urged drivers to travel only if absolutely necessary.
Rail services were also hit. More than 200 rail passengers on the Glasgow-Inverness service were left stranded when their train became stuck in a snowdrift.
Police in the Highlands said attempts to rescue the travellers were proving difficult because of the remote location and snowy conditions. The train became stuck at around 8.20pm yesterday at Blackmount, between Carrbridge and Slochd stations.
The Edinburgh to Dundee line was closed at Burntisland in Fife for three hours because of a landslip. And the east coast main line between Edinburgh and London was closed again following two landslips between Dunbar and Berwick-upon-Tweed. Network Rail announced last night that east coast train services between Edinburgh and Newcastle will only resume this morning.
Repair crews from ScottishPower and Scottish & Southern Energy battled throughout the day in horrendous conditions to bring as many customers as possible back on line after a "perfect storm" of gales, plunging temperatures and heavy snow brought down power lines.
The high winds made it impossible for helicopters to be used to ferry engineers to repair lines in more remote areas. And blocked rural roads only added to their problems.
A ScottishPower spokesman said: "This is the worst weather we've had from an electricity networks point of view all winter.
"It has been colder and we've had more snow before but the winter has been quite still. This is the first time we have had storms associated with heavy snow falls. Debris has been hitting lines, poles have been coming down and wires have been breaking because of the ice and high winds."
Yesterday morning 19,000 ScottishPower customers were without power, including 8,000 in Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway, 3,500 in the Lothians and 4,500 in Central and Fife.
During the day an estimated 10,000 consumers were reconnected but, as a result of rolling power problems, 17,000 homes were without power last night.
Roads in the North East were among the worst affected. On the A96, the main road between Aberdeen and Inverness, a massive convoy of stranded lorries began gathering close to the notorious Glens of Foudland waiting in vain for the route to be cleared.
One stranded driver, James Christie, said: "I've got my telly and my cooker and my kettle. I'm well prepared for anything but there are lorries in front of me – day drivers – and they won't have drinks or anything."
A police spokesman revealed some motorists had ignored "road closed" warning signs on the A96 between Colpy and Keith.
Yesterday morning, before conditions eased, all roads south in Lothian and Borders were impassable due to snow. In addition, the A9, the main road between Inverness and Perth, was closed following a serious accident.
In the Borders, 23 primary schools and Peebles secondary school were closed because of the adverse weather and five primary schools in Angus were closed due to power problems.
Three tourists, understood to be two Canadians and a Peruvian, were rescued after their canoe capsized in the freezing waters of Loch Lochy, near Spean Bridge. All three were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia.
Northern Ireland was also badly hit by the Arctic conditions with an estimated 50,000 homes left without power.
Last night the Met Office said: "The worst is behind us."
South West Scotland, Lothian and Borders: A few light showers, but it will be mainly dry. Maximum temperature 7C.
• Highlands and Grampian: A brighter day, but still rather cloudy with showery rain, falling as snow on the hills. Maximum temperature 6-7C.
&149 Central, Tayside and Fife: A much better day. Brisk northwesterly winds. Maximum temperature 7C.
TOMORROW to SUNDAY
South West Scotland, Lothian and Borders: A few showers possible; otherwise bright and dry. A spell of rain on Saturday. Remaining showery on Sunday.
&149 Highlands and Grampian: Some showers tomorrow; otherwise bright and dry. A spell of rain on Saturday. Showery on Sunday.
&149 Central, Tayside and Fife: Showers possible tomorrow; otherwise bright. Rain on Saturday. Showery on Sunday.