Three yellow – “be aware” – severe weather warnings for strong winds, snow and rain are in force for central and western Scotland for various periods up to 9pm.
The latest alerts were issued yesterday as snow and strong winds caused havoc for drivers and rail and ferry passengers.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
More than 115 schools were closed, including 98 in the Highlands, eight in Perth and Kinross, five in Shetland and four in Argyll and Bute. Scottish Hydro Electric said some 1,500 homes suffered power cuts yesterday, including several hundred in the Western Isles, 200 in Perthshire and 100 in Oban.
Some 600 people in Scalloway, near Lerwick in Shetland, were reconnected early yesterday after being cut off following a suspected lightning strike.
A Met Office spokesman said: “A further spell of very strong winds from the west is expected from late Thursday morning into the evening, with gusts of 70mph or more in places. The public should be aware of the risk of disruption to transport and possibly to power supplies.”
The agency also warned of snow above 300m this afternoon, which could affect higher roads, and said heavy rain could cause flooding.
Driver information firm Tom Tom Traffic said weather had contributed to 299 congestion “hotspots” in Scotland yesterday morning, causing tailbacks of nearly 200 miles – around one third worse than normal.
It said the A9 was worst affected, with traffic at a standstill for 17 miles.
The road was blocked several times, including by lorries jackknifed or stuck in the snow at Newtonmore and Trinafour, north of Blair Atholl.
Two workers escaped with minor injuries after a Shetland Islands Council gritter rolled down an embankment near Voe.
Other roads closed by snow included the A93 between Glenshee and Braemar, the B974 from Banchory to Fettercairn, and the A939 Ballater to Corgarff, all in Aberdeenshire.
The A82 was also shut between Spean Bridge and Invergarry, north of Fort William, after a collision between a car and a lorry.
Strong winds caused problems elsewhere, including on the Forth Road Bridge, Clackmannanshire Bridge, Skye Bridge and the Friarton Bridge at Perth.
CalMac has cancelled some west coast ferry sailings today because of offshore winds of up to 80mph, including to Arran, Islay, Iona, Lismore and Mull, Rum and Canna. Some sailings were halted yesterday between Oban and Colonsay, Barra, Mull and South Uist, and to Islay, Gigha and Lismore.
Passenger trains have been halted on six routes on the west coast until around 6pm today as a precaution against obstacles such as trees and debris being blown on to tracks.
The ScotRail services affected are between Dumbarton and Helensburgh, Kilwinning and Largs and Ardrossan, Glasgow and Oban and Mallaig, and Dingwall and Kyle of Lochalsh.
Trains between Inverness and Perth were severely delayed by the bad weather yesterday, with one Edinburgh-bound service from Inverness running nearly three hours late. Network Rail snowploughs cleared up to 3ft of snow from tracks but one broke down at Slochd summit, south of Inverness.
Some 30cm of snow fell in Aviemore and 24cm at Tulloch Bridge, east of Fort William.
Eight flood warnings were issued for Perthshire by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, including on stretches of the Rivers Tay, Tummel and Lyon, mainly expected to affect farmland.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS