A SNOW and ice alert for western Scotland lasting into tomorrow was issued by the Met Office today - the 13th consecutive day for which severe weather warnings have been in force north of the Border.
Up to 5cm of snow is forecast over high ground in Argyll, with 1-2cm elsewhere.
The warning, in force from 5pm tonight to 10am tomorrow, covers the west coast from Mallaig to Whithorn in Dumfries and Galloway, and as far east as Glasgow and Lanarkshire.
A Met Office spokesman said: “A complex frontal system is edging into the UK from the west and coming up against a stagnant cold airmass ahead of it.
“Outbreaks of mostly light rain and sleet on Tuesday evening, with snow across higher parts of Northern Ireland and inland parts of western Scotland, will gradually die out overnight.
“In addition, icy stretches will form on untreated surfaces.
“The public should be aware of the risk of difficult travel conditions.”
CalMac ferry passengers were disrupted today, with sailings between Mallaig and Lochboisdale in North Uist cancelled.
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A heavy swell at Coll pier prevented a ferry from Oban landing, while Mull-Iona sailings were under threat amid 44mph winds.
The B974 Banchory-Fettercairn road in Aberdeenshire, which crosses 454m (1,513ft) Cairn O’Mount, remains closed.
Last night was the coldest of the winter so far, with -12.5C recorded at Tulloch Bridge, east of Fort William, and Loch Glascarnoch, north west of Inverness.
The record low is -27.2C, set at Braemar in Aberdeenshire in 1982.
John Lee, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said conditions in some parts of the UK last night were ideal for very cold weather.
He said: “It was quite clear last night, with winds lighter than they have been, clear skies and fresh snow cover. They were the ideal conditions to get into the minus double figures.
“It has definitely been the coldest night of the year so far.”
Mr Lee said the cold weather was likely to stay for the coming days, brought about by a weather front coming in from the west.
He said: “It is staying cold, and tonight we are looking at temperatures going widely below zero.
“Once again, it could potentially get near to what we saw last night, but more likely -7C or -8C in Scotland.
“It is the daytime maximums that are unusual, not getting above 1C or 2C. The average for this time of year is 6C or 7C.”
Fishing boat rescue
Three people are being treated for mild hypothermia after being airlifted from a sinking fishing boat today.
The Irish vessel, the Iuda Naofa, made a distress call when it started taking on water about 48 miles north of the Isle of Lewis at 11am.
A coastguard helicopter was sent to the scene and dropped a salvage pump to clear water from the boat but it was soon swamped and started to sink.
The helicopter airlifted two crew members to another nearby vessel, the Star of Hope.
The other three crew members were airlifted to the Western Isles Hospital, where they are being treated for mild hypothermia.
Coastguard duty watch manager Paul Tunstall said: “The weather conditions on scene were very rough, seas with southerly force six winds.
“Evacuating the five crew swiftly and safely before the vessel went down was a great achievement.”
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