Forecasters have predicted icy roads in the mornings and intermittent snow showers over the coming days across the central belt.
Police have warned drivers to take care on arterial routes and expect “significant disruption to travel” on the M8 east of Glasgow. The Met Office has issued amber weather warnings for today.
Exacta Weather, which provides seasonal forecasts, has predicted this winter could be among the coldest on record, particularly in the run up to Christmas.
It warned: “Temperatures are also likely to exceed double negative figures during the evenings at times, especially in parts of Scotland and the north, and even more so in the run up to the Christmas and New Year period.
James Madden, forecaster at Exacta Weather, said: “This forecast is also especially more applicable to the east of Scotland, as this is where the most persistent and heaviest snow is likely to occur throughout the December and January period of this winter.
“It is likely there will be some quite deep accumulations across higher ground in these parts, with some heavy falls of snow to much lower levels too.”
Sleet and snow were to spread after a cold night last night with 10-15cm of snow estimated to fall on levels above 400m and 5-10cm expected on areas above 200m.
Deputy Chief Constable Tom Ewing, speaking on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said: “The public should be prepared for the risk of significant disruption to travel especially over the M8 corridor to the east of Glasgow, and over much of inland eastern Scotland.
“Anyone who is travelling in these areas should be prepared for possible delays and make sure their vehicle is properly prepared.”
The Met Office said outbreaks of sleet and snow coming in from the west today with “rather treacherous travel conditions” in some parts of the Lothians.
Ken McEwan, forecaster at the Met Office in Scotland, said: “Ground temperatures will be very cold and it may take some time in the mornings for ice to thaw away.
“Thursday night should bring a bit of frost, perhaps with showery rain and temperatures will dip to around -1C in central Edinburgh, perhaps colder in outlying areas.
“Friday morning might be 4C or 5C but with a cold wind, dropping to -3C into the evening, and East Lothian might see snow showers at night.
“The general trend is somewhat milder for the weekend but entering next week with some wintery snow showers. Winter has certainly started but it is very early yet.”