TEMPERATURES could dip as low as -10C in parts of the Highlands this weekend as Scotland shivers in the coldest spell of the winter so far.
Ice warnings have been issued for the east of the country, with the Met Office warning of potentially difficult driving conditions.
Up to 10cm of snow is expected on hills, with the possibility of it also settling on lower ground in the north-west.
A yellow – “be aware” – severe weather warning for ice is in force for the Borders, east Lothian, Fife, eastern Angus, Aberdeenshire and the far north until 11am today. The far south-west of Dumfries and Galloway is also covered.
Met Office chief operational meteorologist Dan Suri said: “Particularly at risk of icy patches are roads, pavements and cycleways which are either still snow covered, where surfaces are wet from partially-melted snow or standing water, and areas where wintry showers occur after dark.”
The agency said such warnings were not routinely issued during freezing temperatures, but put out when severe weather posed safety risks.
Met Office forecaster Rebecca Simpson said: “Temperatures are widely below freezing overnight [on Friday], potentially even as low as -10C across the Highlands.
“There will be a fine start to Saturday, with some wintry showers down the east coast of England and the north-west of Scotland, but it will largely be a dry day with lighter winds, and won’t feel quite as chilly.”
The agency said the lowest temperatures tonight were expected in unpopulated rural areas, with Aviemore likely to be among the chilliest settlements, at around -8C.
The prospect of further snow was welcomed by Scotland’s snowsport centres as they gear up to celebrate World Snow Day tomorrow.
Heather Negus, the chair of Ski-Scotland, said: “With all five of our mountain snowsports areas now operating, it’s looking good for some real World Snow Day fun on Sunday.
“We hope lots of families will come along to enjoy some mountain air, mountain snow and above all have some fun.”
Meanwhile, a rare January hurricane in the Atlantic, which is closing in on the Azores, is forecast to miss UK shores and eventually die out near Greenland.
Alex is the first hurricane to form in January since 1938, with authorities in the Portuguese islands warning of waves up to 60ft high, wind gusts up to 100mph and torrential rain.
The Met Office said: “An area of high pressure is expected to develop over the UK this weekend which should keep Alex over the ocean and away from our shores.”