WINDS of up to 70mph, torrential rain and even snow are forecast to hit Scotland this weekend.
The Met Office warned last night of a weather front expected to arrive tomorrow morning that will dash any hopes of an Indian summer.
Aberdeen-based forecaster Dave Clark said storms tomorrow will bring an end to a long period of settled weather.
He said: “We have had such a quiet period of weather for so long that it is going to come as a shock. We could be getting wind speeds reaching 70mph on the higher parts and across bridges, and potentially in the Central Belt.
“There will be widespread gusts across Scotland of 55mph. That will go into the afternoon on Sunday, then following behind that will be blustery showers.”
Conditions are then forecast to be muggy during Monday, when the mercury is forecast to drop to around 12C.
Mr Clark said the low pressure would drift east in the middle of the week, adding: “After that, there’s a hint of some good weather on Thursday, but there are more lows heading in from the Atlantic. It’s going to be an unsettled week.”
A yellow “be aware” warning from the Met Office was in place last night for 3pm tomorrow until the end of Monday.
Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne said it was prepared to stop services on the west coast if necessary because of strengthening winds.
A CalMac spokesman said: “Ferry services in many parts of our network may be subject to disruption due to high winds on Sunday and Monday, and ferry travellers are advised to be prepared to be flexible with their travel plans and to check our website, www.calmac.co.uk, for the latest information.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused but would stress that the safety and comfort of our passengers, crews and ships is our number-one priority.”
However, for one of Scotland’s top ski resorts, the wintry weather means the run-up to the next season is now under way.
Snow has fallen early near the summit of Cairn Gorm already and further falls are expected in the next few days above 500 metres.
Cairn Gorm operations manager Colin Matthew said: “We have had heavy, wet snow near the summit. More would be good, and we hope for an early start to the season. The record earliest start is late October.
“There’s a lot of excitement after such good skiing last winter. We could be looking at a flurry of season ticket sales.”
Officials last night revealed Aviemore is expected to be the coldest place in the UK today, at 4C. Other parts of Scotland were also told to expect cold blasts, with Aberfeldy due to reach 7C and St Andrews just one degree more.
A spokesman for weather experts MeteoGroup said: “One or two light showers are possible along western fringes and in northern Scotland. Below-average temperatures are expected.”
He said rain was due across many parts of Scotland throughout tonight.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, the spokesman said: “It will be an unsettled and windy day for all areas, with a band of heavy rain spreading south-eastwards through the day.
“This will clear from the far north-west to be followed by some brighter spells and plenty of squally showers.
“There will be gales in northern and western Scotland as well as Northern Ireland.”
Scattered showers are set to continue through to the start of next week, with western areas expected to endure the heaviest and most frequent rainfall.
Temperatures are not expected to increase and are forecast to continue to be lower than average for the middle of September.