SCOTLAND is braced for more severe weather today as snow continues to cause travel chaos across the UK in the run-up to Christmas.
• A postman in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, does his best. Photographs: PA, Karen Murray
As much as 15cm of snow was expected in parts of eastern Scotland today, with freezing temperatures into the new week creating hazardous conditions on the roads.
Travellers yesterday faced hold-ups as Heathrow and Gatwick airports closed their runways due to heavy build-ups of snow, affecting flights elsewhere across the country.
Northern Scotland bore the brunt of the worst weather yesterday, with snow forcing roads to close and police warning against all but the most essential travel.
With the freezing conditions continuing well into the week, there was some hope of milder weather returning by Christmas Day.
The worst weather yesterday was seen in southern England, where flights were cancelled when the runways were closed at Heathrow and Gatwick.
Roads around the airports were also shut as police warned of hazardous driving conditions. Hundreds of drivers were stranded overnight on the M6 motorway in Greater Manchester.
Last night Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports remained open, though flights to other more seriously affected parts of the UK were cancelled.
There were also warnings about road conditions in the north of Scotland. Northern Constabulary warned drivers of freezing conditions on the region's roads. "Drivers should continue to exercise extra caution and determine whether their journey could be postponed until weather conditions improve," a spokesman said.
The RAC also urged motorists to take extra care when venturing out over the weekend.
Transport minister Keith Brown said everything possible was being done to keep the north, north-east and the rest of Scotland moving.
"There is to be no immediate improvement in the weather, with further heavy snowfalls on the way, and all agencies, including local authorities, operating companies, police forces, Scottish Government and transport agencies are working flat-out to minimise the disruption caused by unprecedented weather and will continue to do so," he said.
Peter Sloss, a Met Office forecaster in Aberdeen, said the snow on Saturday had not been too bad, with some downfall in Glasgow and more heavy showers in eastern Scotland, north of Dundee and in Orkney and Shetland.
But he said easterly winds picking up overnight would bring snow showers in from north sea and during the morning. The showers were expected to affect Orkney, Shetland, Grampian, Tayside, Fife, Lothian and the Borders.
"People will be waking up to a fair number of showers in eastern Scotland, and some will feed through the central lowlands to Glasgow and Lanarkshire," Sloss said.
MONDAY Snow showers across north and east Scotland. Mainly dry, bright spells elsewhere. Light winds and staying cold.
TUESDAY Snow showers, mainly in coastal areas. Dry and bright weather inland. Light winds and staying cold, with severe frosts overnight.
WEDNESDAY Light winds and a few snow showers, mainly near the east coast. Cold but with sunshine in the west and severe frosts, with temperatures staying below freezing all day.
THURSDAY Snow showers, mainly in south-east Scotland. A lot of dry, bright weather elsewhere. Cold and frosty all day, with severe frosts overnight and light winds.
CHRISTMAS EVE Still mainly dry, with a few snow flurries towards the east coast. Light winds and staying very cold most of the day.
CHRISTMAS DAY Mainly dry and frosty. Milder conditions may edge up from the south later in the day.
ROADS in the north and north-east of Scotland were the worst affected by snow and ice yesterday.
Transport Scotland said 141 winter service vehicles had been out on the trunk road network, with more than a third of these concentrating on keeping routes open in the northern region.
It said all trunk roads were open last night and were being closely monitored. Drivers were urged to check the Traffic Scotland website (http://trafficscotland.org) before travelling.
In Grampian, several roads were closed due to heavy snowfall, including the B976 between Crathie and Gairnshiel and the A941 between Dufftown and Rhynie. The Met Office warned of further disruption with more snow today in many areas.
Bus operators in the north and north-east were experiencing disruption yesterday.
MOST ScotRail trains were running as normal yesterday, but there were some delays and disruptions.
Services between Aberdeen and Inverness and Edinburgh-Bathgate were disrupted due to signalling problems.
There was also disruption between Dalmeny and Inverkeithing caused by signal problems.
In addition, train services at Dalmuir were being disrupted due to overhead wire problems.
ScotRail said services between Dalmuir and Springburn were withdrawn and services to and from Helensburgh/Balloch were starting and terminating at Dalmuir.
Trains were running between Helensburgh and Dumbarton Central and also between Balloch and Dumbarton. Replacement buses were operating between Dalmuir and Dumbarton Central.
FLIGHTS from major London airports were severely affected by the snow yesterday, with knock-on effects on passengers leaving from Scotland.
BA cancelled all long-haul flights from Heathrow which were due to depart before 7pm yesterday and all short-haul flights. All the airline's flights from Gatwick were cancelled, with the exception of one to Sharm el-Sheikh. Other airlines were also affected.
Gatwick reopened at 2.45pm after closing for several hours. A 140-strong team swept 10cm of snow and ice from the runway.
Luton Airport and London Stansted's runways were also affected by closures. Scottish airports were open but affected by closures elsewhere. Glasgow saw 44 cancellations, affecting 6,000 passengers, and was also receiving London-bound flights.