A BLANKET of heavy snow, up to six inches deep in places, was expected to hit much of Scotland during today’s morning rush-hour, causing chaos for commuters from Central Scotland to the Western Isles.
Motorists were placed on amber alert by the Met Office late on Wednesday to prepare for difficult driving conditions today as a fresh Arctic blast and a band of snow is due to spread across the country with overnight temperatures sending the mercury plunging to -10C in some rural areas.
So far no major problems have been reported, and temperatures are said to be rising in the west of the country.
Traffic was moving on the M8 this morning despite the snowfall.
The amber warning, which is expected to last through to 11am in some areas, affects Grampian, Highlands, Western Isles, Central, Tayside, Fife and Strathclyde.
Keith Brown, the Scottish transport minister, said that the Scottish Government’s Multi Agency Response Team (Mart) will be operational to monitor the morning rush hour and offer assistance across the network.
Transport Scotland also chaired a meeting with the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpos), the Met Office, operating companies, rail operators and Traffic Scotland on Wednesday to prepare for the fresh winter onslaught.
Mr Brown said: “So far this week the network and the public have coped well with some testing conditions. However this severe weather warning suggests that tomorrow morning promises to be the biggest challenge of the winter to date.
“We would remind motorists and the travelling public to be aware of the potential dangers of snow and icy conditions. An added risk is that fresh snow could fall on hard-packed ice and already treacherous surfaces.
“The public should be prepared for the risk of significant disruption to travel, especially over the M8 corridor to the east of Glasgow, across Perthshire and over much of inland eastern Scotland.”
David Simpson, route managing director of Network Rail Scotland, said: “In the past couple of years we’ve invested heavily in innovative technology such as Nasa-grade insulation to prevent points freezing and snow displacers which prevent snow building up, and this will make the network as robust as possible and help us to keep Scotland moving.”
Anthony Astbury, chief forecaster at the Met Office, said: “During the early hours of Thursday, sleet and snow will spread from the west, with 10-15cm of snow likely to fall above 400m with some 5-10 cm above 200m. At lower levels 2-3cm of snow is likely before turning back to rain. Despite turning to rain, the snow and ice will struggle to melt and this will bring some treacherous conditions.”
The North-east of Scotland and Shetland bore the brunt of the fresh snowfalls on Wednesday.
In Aberdeenshire, 16 schools were completely closed and another 62 partially closed. There were also delays to flights at Aberdeen airport.
In Dumfries and Galloway, the police dealt with 39 traffic collisions in the space of 24 hours.
Deputy Chief Constable Tom Ewing, of Acpos, said on Wednesday night: “The public should be prepared for the risk of significant disruption to travel, especially along the M8 corridor to the east of Glasgow.”