SNOW and freezing nights will return to much of Scotland from Wednesday, the Met Office said today as it issued a new yellow - “be aware” - severe weather warning.
The agency warned of near blizzard conditions which could disrupt travel, including by severely restricting visibility.
More than 10cm (4in) of snow is expected to fall on ground above about 150m (500ft), with 2-5cm (1-2in) at lower levels between Wednesday afternoon and midnight on Thursday.
The warning area covers the whole Scottish mainland and islands apart from eastern parts of Fife, Tayside and Aberdeenshire.
Northern Ireland and north west England as far south as Blackpool are also included.
A Met Office spokesman said: “An active cold front is expected to push south east across the UK during Wednesday, introducing an increasingly cold and unstable air mass.
“Showers will become frequent and heavy, increasingly falling as snow in the north and west, and driven well inland by strong to gale-force north-westerly winds.
“Accumulating snow is likely, especially overnight away from windward coastal districts.
“Strong and gusty winds will likely accompany snow showers, and lead to significantly reduced visibility at times.
“The public should be aware of the potential for disruption to travel.”
Daytime temperatures of 7-9C across Scotland tomorrow will dip to 3-4C by Thursday, but cold winds from the north will make it feel like -1C to -3C.
Overnight, it will freeze in places on Wednesday night with -1C in Edinburgh on Thursday night, while Glasgow is expected to experience -3C by Sunday night.
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Regular cold spots, such as Dalwhinnie in the Highlands, could reach -5C by then, with -4C in the Aberdeenshire village of Braemar.
The Met Office spokesman said: “The weather has been a bit topsy turvy over the last few days, but it is now looking like we are going back to another spell of colder weather, which could last well over a week.
“We are likely to see further snow showers on Friday and Saturday because of the northerly air flow, although the Central Belt could miss these.
“There will be more of a north-south split, with more snow in the north and Aberdeenshire.”
He said the warning had been issued so far in advance because of the “reasonably high confidence” of the wintry conditions, but an update would be issued tomorrow.
Ice forced the cancellation of the second day of the Royal Canin and Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain’s 32nd Aviemore Sled Dog Rally today.
Organisers said racing had been scrapped for the safety of the dogs and mushers.
More than 1,000 and 200 mushers were due to have taken part in the event on forest trails around Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms.
High winds caused difficult driving conditions on the Forth Road Bridge, with a 40mph speed limit imposed because of gusts up to 35mph.
Strong winds also affected the Kessock, Dornoch and Skye bridges.
CalMac’s Mull-Iona ferry sailings were disrupted by winds gusting up to 46mph and a heavy sea swell.