Scotland hit by winter misery

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Key points

• Blizzards across Scotland follow on heels of worst storms in a decade

• Met Office issues severe weather warnings with winds of 70mph expected

• Motorists warned to be careful of treacherous road conditions

Key quote

"Travelling will be difficult. Tuesday will be very windy, with sleety showers and drifting snow on higher ground. The weather won’t be as severe as last week but it will be a fairly unpleasant wintry spell" - Met Office spokesman

Story in full DRIVING snow swept into Scotland last night less than a week after the country was left battered and grieving amid the worst storm in more than a decade.

The Met Office yesterday issued a severe weather warning across the country with blizzards and gales gusting up to 70mph set to cause havoc.

Heavy snow started to hit the Highlands yesterday afternoon with falls of up to 15cm as well as freezing temperatures forecast.

Commuters were warned last night that conditions on roads across the country could be treacherous today, with driving winds causing drifting on exposed routes.

Experts were predicting 2-5cm of snow for Glasgow and 1-3cm in Edinburgh today. High winds were set to create blizzard conditions and drifting across central Scotland, especially on higher ground. Last night hundreds of gritters were out in force across Scotland, trying to head off the worst of the delays. Road maintenance firms Amey and Bear Scotland had more than 100 gritters operating throughout the night.

In Edinburgh, the city council had 22 gritters in operation through the night, keeping priority roads, bus routes and the city centre open.

Glasgow City Council also said a full shift of gritters had been deployed to keep main roads clear.

Grampian police said a 40-mile stretch of the A93 between Braemar and Blairgowrie had been closed with snow gates at either end because of heavy falls.

The A82 Fort William to Glencoe and the A9 Daviot to Drumochter Pass were also affected by heavy snowfall and icy conditions.

A Met Office spokesman said: "Travelling will be difficult. Tuesday will be very windy, with sleety showers and drifting snow on higher ground. The weather won’t be as severe as last week but it will be a fairly unpleasant wintry spell."

Again, the Western Isles will bear the worst of the weather. All island schools are to remain closed today because of forecast high winds and heavy snow. Northern Constabulary issued a weather warning last night and, along with Western Isles Council, advised motorists to drive only if they had to.

Last week the isles were battered by the worst storms in living memory, with winds of up to 124mph. A family of five was killed on South Uist when their cars were swept into the sea as they tried to escape the storm.

A police spokesman urged householders to take precautions in the light of the damage caused by last week’s hurricane-force winds.

He said: "We are advising, where possible, that people secure any garden materials which may be unstable following last week’s gales.

"In addition, any storm debris which has not been cleared away may pose a risk to safety if the winds are as strong as predicted."

The Met Office said snow showers were expected across much of northern Britain as well as some central parts.

A spokesman said: "Western and northern Scotland are expected to be worst affected, with 5-10cm of snow likely in places and over 15cm accumulating on high ground.

"Combined with severe gales and gusts to over 70mph in the north and north-east at times, blizzard conditions and drifting will occur, particularly on high ground.

"This will make driving difficult and some untreated roads may become impassable."

Tomorrow should see the return of milder weather and a resulting thaw.

Last week 85,000 homes had their power cut by the storms which also closed roads and bridges, forced the cancellation of all 26 Caledonian MacBrayne ferry routes and caused widespread flooding.

Scottish Hydro-Electric engineers were working flat-out to restore power to the remaining 2,000 homes which were blacked out. The company has retained 120 staff from other UK energy companies to help its own workers tackle repairs.