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Weather: Snow chaos on anniversary of the heatwave

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  • by MARTYN McLAUGHLIN
 

FROM a bustling al fresco feast held in glorious sunshine to a frosty winter wasteland, you could be forgiven for presuming these images of Edinburgh were taken in summer and winter.

WEATHER OUTLOOK

• Met Office issue yellow warnings of snow and ice for eastern Scotland

• Snow and icy conditions here until Friday say forecasters - and the cold spell could last into April

But in a stark illustration of how a Scottish spring can never be second guessed, these photographs of the Meadows were taken on the same day this year and last.

Whereas the country basked in an unseasonal heatwave on 27 March in 2012, with students enjoying impromptu barbecues as the mercury nudged 23C, the capital greenspace was nearly deserted yesterday, but for a family clad in wellington boots traipsing across the snow-covered grass.

The freezing weather was not confined to Edinburgh, however, as further snowfall caused widespread travel disruption across the country. Utility firm engineers neared the end of an arduous week-long repair operation to reconnect the remaining households across rural communities left without power following last Friday’s severe storms.

As of yesterday evening, around 100 homes in Kintyre and 350 properties on Arran remained cut off, but Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) again deployed 400 workers in an effort to provide them with heating and electricity.

The company said that while “conditions remain challenging,” it was on track to restore power to its remaining customers by the end of tonight, providing it doesn’t encounter “further significant network damage” as part of its ongoing surveys of felled lines and poles. SSE said its deployment of emergency generators were equivalent to “two new power stations”.

Transport minister Keith Brown said there had been a “huge effort” by all the agencies involved in the response to the severe weather.

He said: “Of course, it remains difficult for those that are not on supply, but what we have seen is the numbers being reduced by about 90 per cent from about 18,000 who were off supply, to below 2,000.

“And the assurance given by the electricity company – they will have everybody back on supply, that will be temporary supply, by tomorrow night.

“Efforts are continuing. There has been a huge effort put in by all the agencies and that will continue until we get everyone back on supply.”

Mr Brown said SSE hoped to have the “major infrastructure work that is required in Kintyre completed by the weekend”.

That work, he explained, was needed to reinstate to two electricity towers which had gone down.

Mr Brown said it was “unprecedented” for two of these to go down at the same time, adding: “These are things they haven’t seen before, certainly not for a generation, but that work is ongoing and they expect to have people back on supply by the weekend, that’s permanent supply, on the grid.”

Yesterday, sleet and snow blew in from the east, reaching parts of the west and south-west, with yellow “be aware” snow warnings issued by the Met

Office for central and eastern parts of the country.

An accident partly blocked the A72 between Innerleithen and Walkerburn and there were reports of other minor accidents on the A7 and A68.

Motorists also endured delays on the M8 at Livingston and Glasgow, and on the M9 at Falkirk.

Today will see another cold and frosty start, before conditions become mainly dry

and bright with sunny spells developing. Into the weekend, there will be little change,

with the chance of a few snow flurries in the east, while the west enjoys the best of the sunshine.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government said “strenuous efforts” are continuing to help farmers hit by severe snow to trace and care for their livestock.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: ““We have worked quickly to source appropriate help and specialist equipment and match it with the need on the ground. This work will continue as we monitor the ongoing effects of the weather, particularly as the thaw begins.”

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