SCOTS have been warned to prepare for gales and potential flooding as the big freeze turns to thaw.
Following the Arctic blast from the east that saw parts of the UK buried under snow, the Met Office is now predicting a series of mild weather fronts coming in from the Atlantic over the next few days, bringing winds reaching severe gale force and heavy rain.
Scotland’s environment agency Sepa yesterday issued yellow “be prepared” warnings for Argyll and Bute, Ayrshire and Arran, and Dumfries and Galloway as lying snow begins to melt.
David Faichney, Sepa’s hydrology manager, said: “No significant flooding is expected from larger rivers. However, some localised flooding may occur from surface water and smaller watercourses in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders area, where the thaw is expected to be greatest and the rainfall heaviest.”
However, across the UK, people were still coping with the effects of the freezing weather that hit the country last week.
Many in Scotland battled “hazardous” ice yesterday morning following Friday’s snow coating of up to 20cm, with numerous football matches postponed.
A family in Barnsley had to be evacuated when the gable end of their house collapsed, apparently under the weight of fresh snow. South Yorkshire Police said crews were called to the house at about 4am yesterday.
A relative of the homeowner said: “She said it was like an earthquake. It’s a really shocking experience and you wouldn’t think snow would do this, would you?”
Drivers also returned to their abandoned vehicles yesterday after heavy snow storms left hundreds stranded on motorways.
The M6 was blocked in both directions between junctions 25 and 27 in Lancashire when a sudden downfall of more than a foot of snow brought drivers to a standstill on Friday night.
Many became stuck after struggling to make it up inclines in the treacherous conditions, while a number of accidents, including jackknifed lorries, also blocked lanes.
Mountain rescue workers walked along a four-mile stretch of the M6 in Lancashire in the early hours of yesterday morning to check on the condition of drivers.
Met Office forecaster Dave Clark said temperatures in Scotland would begin to rise overnight and into today as a band of rain pushed in from the Atlantic.
“This will bring along with it strong winds affecting the Inner Hebrides and areas up the west coast,” he said. “Throughout Sunday we will see blustery showers that will fall as snow on higher grounds but rain lower down. On Monday there is the potential for the winds to touch severe gale force.”
Clark said there was a possibility that the high winds on Tuesday could track through the Central Belt, and gales combined with high tides could lead to disruption to ferry crossings in the west.