Ten inches of snow as gales and blizzards hit
GALE-FORCE winds and blizzards left much of Scotland under a deep blanket of snow yesterday, causing travel chaos and long tailbacks for hundreds of commuters stuck on blocked roads.
Up to ten inches of snow fell in parts of the country, and last night forecasters warned that more severe weather was on its way, with winds of 70mph predicted to lash the country today.
Only days after thousands of people were left counting the cost of havoc caused by hurricane-force winds and flooding, Highland areas were paralysed again due to the weather.
Whiteout conditions made driving treacherous, causing huge traffic jams in Fife and Central Scotland which were worst affected by the snow. The Met Office issued four weather warnings yesterday morning, but despite working throughout the night, gritters could not prevent black ice forming on many roads, which caused a spate of accidents.
Drifting snow and icy patches forced the closure of the A93 between Braemar and Blairgowrie, the A81 between Callander and Aberfoyle and the A85 between Killin and Crianlarich, all of which were described by police as "treacherous".
Two lorries jack-knifed on the M74 linking Scotland and England, causing lengthy delays.
Hazardous conditions also led to two lorries jack-knifing on the A77, with one fatal accident and a number of other accidents leading to the closure of the northbound carriageway of the A79.
The severe weather also meant coastguard and Royal Navy helicopters having to airlift patients to hospital in two separate incidents.
A navy helicopter from HMS Gannet at Prestwick took a patient from the island of Colonsay to hospital in Oban after the air ambulance was unable to land because of bad weather.
The wintry conditions also prevented a patient being taken by air ambulance from Durness to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter was called in.
Elsewhere, snow and strong winds meant all schools and social work offices were closed in the Western Isles, which bore the brunt of last week’s storm. Another 31 schools closed across the Highlands where up to 6ins of snow fell overnight, and all phone lines on Eriskay were knocked out.
However, despite the second bout of severe weather in less than a week, transport operators reported relatively little disruption. A few early morning First ScotRail train services were cancelled or delayed, as were a number of flights to and from Scotland’s airports. Four of Caledonian MacBrayne’s island ferry services were cancelled.
Although the high winds which are expected to sweep across the country today will gradually die down as evening approaches, further snow and ice is expected towards the end of the week.
A spokesman for the Met Office said: "Temperatures fell below freezing in most areas of Scotland. These are expected to rise as the week continues.
"The outlook for the week is for unsettled weather, with wintry storms being replaced by rain showers."
He added: "However, the blizzards from the beginning of the week should return as the weekend approaches, with more snow, sleet and hail forecast for Friday and over the weekend.
"At the moment our main concern is high winds, with gusts expected to reach around 70mph in exposed and northern areas."
Last night, an AA spokesman urged drivers to make journeys only if absolutely necessary. He said: "Drivers should get as much information as possible before they set off and know where the trouble spots are.
"If you do set off in bad weather, let someone know your estimated time of arrival."
Meanwhile, public bodies and companies are still counting the cost of last week’s storm. The hurricane-force winds caused about 60,000 of damage at the Inverewe Gardens in Wester Ross. About 150 trees, including some rare species and others aged 150, were hit.
Western Isles Council is leading a multi-agency group to establish the extent and cost of the damage caused across the islands last week. It is likely to take several weeks to make a detailed assessment.
Western Isles councillor John Laing said: "The list [of damage] is becoming longer as people get out and about after the storm."
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West