PARTS of Scotland are braced for a new wave of bad weather after forecasters issued warnings of heavy snow.
The Met Office put amber “be prepared” alerts in place for south-east Scotland and the Shetland Islands.
Snow started falling on Wednesday evening in Central Scotland and the east of the country while Scottish Borders Council has opened its emergency planning centre in preparation.
About 3-6cm of snow was expected quite widely, with the possibility of more than 10cm on higher ground.
Police Scotland said officers received a number of reports of incidents on roads across the north east of the country on Wednesday and advised motorists to take care.
Inspector Jon Barron said: “Emergency services have responded to a number of collisions.
“While inquiries into the circumstances are ongoing I would like to urge motorists to be aware of road conditions in cold weather.
“Please plan ahead, check the weather forecast and, if you must travel, allow more time for your journey.”
The plummeting temperatures have also prompted public health chiefs to warn the elderly to keep their homes warm and have the flu jab as forecasters predict the cold front is set to remain into the weekend, with Scotland and northern England bearing the brunt of the wintry weather.
John Lee, a forecaster at MeteoGroup, said: “There will be a widespread frost and minimum temperatures overnight could get as low as minus 4C (24.8F) or 5C (23F) in Scotland.
“There will be snow across southern Scotland and northern England, which could be quite heavy at times, especially during the night.
“Over the next few days temperatures are unlikely to get much higher than 5C (41F) or 6C (42.8F) pretty much anywhere and we are likely to see more widespread frost.”
The cold snap is in sharp contrast to last month, which was both the wettest and warmest December on record, when temperatures averaged 7.9C (46.2F).
Transport Minister, Derek Mackay said: “A wide range of agencies and organisations have their response plans in action to try to mitigate the effects of this latest set of wintry conditions but it is likely that there will be disruption to the transport network.
“The weather is forecast to deteriorate this evening and these conditions will last into tomorrow morning across the peak period when people are traveling to work.
“We have more gritters available across the trunk roads this year than ever before and these will be out with patrols across the day and night. There is plenty of salt available and the winter control rooms are monitoring conditions 24/7 to ensure that the fleet is treating and patrolling where required.
“Drivers should listen to Police advice, check their route is available and leave some extra time for their journeys. Live information on conditions is available on the Traffic Scotland Twitter feed, smartphone App, internet radio and website.
“The advice is the same for those intending to use public transport. Passengers should check their travel operator’s website before they leave and be mindful that conditions could be difficult in some areas.”