FORECASTERS predicted the coldest night this winter last night, with the mercury expected to plunge as low as -15C (5F) in parts of Scotland.
The big freeze for the majority of Scotland was due to last into the early hours of this morning.
Severe weather warnings for snow and icy conditions were also in place last night for most of the country – with the Met Office issuing 11 notices on 11 consecutive days.
Yellow weather warnings were issued yesterday at 3pm to remain in place until 10am today for Lothian and Borders and south-west Scotland; central, Tayside and Fife; Grampian and the Highland and Islands.
Drivers have been warned to take extra care on the roads in icy conditions.
Some areas got an early taste of freezing conditions with the temperature dropping to -7.1C (19.2F) in Dalwhinnie in the Highlands on Saturday night.
Met Office forecaster Calum MacColl said conditions would be “clear as a bell” in affected areas and urged people to wrap up. “It only has to get past -9C (15.8F) and we’ll have the coldest night for winter,” he said. That record was set on 27 December, in Cromdale, Moray.
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Snow gates were yesterday closed in both directions on the A93 at Spittal of Glenshee in Perth and Kinross due to adverse weather conditions.
The B976 Crathie-Gairnshiel road was closed yesterday afternoon due to drifting snow.
Motorists were urged to show caution on the A87 at the Skye Bridge after high winds affected driving conditions.
Wintery showers swept across north-east Scotland yesterday afternoon, with some sleet and snow gradually moving southwards.
Rain and sleet swept across coastal areas and around 2 to 5 centimetres of snow was predicted inland and above about 200 metres for areas where the warnings were in place.
Last night a spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said more than 150 gritters were out on trunk roads while local authorities would also be sending out road teams.
She said: “Drivers should be aware of the risk of ice, take extra care on the roads and be mindful of police advice. They should plan ahead, leave some extra time for their journeys and make sure their vehicle is well maintained with an emergency kit.
“Live information on conditions is available on the Traffic Scotland Twitter feed, smartphone app, internet radio and website.”
The forecast about the likelihood of the coldest night of the year led to bookmaker Coral slashing the odds from 20-1 to 8-1 that the UK’s record low temperature of -27.2C (-17F) will be broken this year.
Nicola McGready, a spokeswoman for the betting company, said: “As Britain braces itself for freezing weather, we have witnessed an avalanche of bets on 2015 being the coldest ever.”
Meanwhile, England is likely to experience colder than average conditions until the end of the week, but a Met Office spokeswoman said overall the south of the country would have “typical British winter weather”.
At Sedgwick, in Cumbria, a man was pulled from an icy riverbank shortly before 9am yesterday morning. Paramedics were called to the scene following reports that a man had fallen onto the rocks.
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