TEMPERATURES in Scotland could tonight plunge to the lowest levels seen this winter, according to Met Office forecasts.
Readings of -7C were expected last night as amber alerts for snow and ice remained in place for some areas. But forecasters warn that gentler winds, clear skies and a carpet of snow could force the mercury as low as -15C.
“Lightening winds could see readings of -10C or even -15C in sheltered parts of Argyll and Perthshire as Sunday turns to Monday,” said the Met Office’s Graeme Whipps. That would be the coldest we have had this winter, although these are the sort of temperatures we expect in January.
“It is really because we have the snowfield, the light winds and the clear skies, which mean the temperatures tend to plummet.”
Plunging temperatures and snow showers meant continued hazardous driving conditions today, but all severe weather warnings were due to be lifted before lunchtime.
However, despite the Arctic chill, which will continue through the week, conditions are set to improve across the country.
Whipps said: “On Sunday night showers become confined to the far north-east and then it should be a reasonable day on Monday for all areas.
“We have a front coming in off the Atlantic on Tuesday, and as it meets the cold air it will bring sleet, turning increasingly into snow as it heads inland.
“The signs at the moment are that this will weaken quite considerably as it comes across the country.
“It is certainly not going to produce huge amounts of snow but locally there could be some snowfall in inland western areas.
“Daytime temperatures where we have snow will struggle to rise above freezing and at night there will be widespread frosts away from coastal areas.”
A number of roads were closed and motorways have been gridlocked as heavy snowfall caused treacherous conditions around Scotland in recent days.
Bad weather also caused disruption for air passengers, with some inbound flights being diverted due to the snow.
According to the Met Office, the jet stream is responsible for current climatic conditions.
The strong jet stream that brought severe gales and mild temperatures at the start of this year has weakened and moved southwards. This has been keeping deep low pressure systems away from UK shores.
The longer-term picture suggests milder conditions may return towards the latter part of the month, with unsettled weather expected to continue into February.
The lowest temperature experienced so far this season has been -9C, recorded in Moray in the final week of last year. The all-time lowest temperature experienced in Scotland since records began is -27.2C, last experienced at Altnahara in the Highlands in December 1995.