Weather: Snow and ice cause travel chaos

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HEAVY snow and ice caused travel chaos nationwide today as temperatures plunged lower than at any time in February.

Commuters delayed by accidents, breakdowns and speed restrictions complained that roads had not been gritted in some areas across Scotland.

Heavy snow showers have hit much of the country, including in Edinburgh. Picture: Julie Bull

Heavy snow showers have hit much of the country, including in Edinburgh. Picture: Julie Bull

In Edinburgh, one city councillor accused his own local authority of failing to clear the streets properly.

The Met Office warned last night that spring was unlikely to arrive in time for Easter, with fresh weather warnings in place for some areas in the coming days.

Forecasters said the mercury plummeted to around -13C in parts of Scotland yesterday, including Aboyne in Aberdeenshire, below the coldest day this February which was recorded at -10C.

A fatal one-car crash between the Letham and Parbroath crossroads junction in Fife closed the A92 just after 6:30am, creating lengthy tailbacks. The male victim was the sole occupant of the car.

In South Lanarkshire a lorry driver had to be cut free from his vehicle and taken to hospital after an accident involving two other heavy goods vehicles in snow on the M74 during rushhour.

On the Forth Road Bridge drivers were advised not to exceed 30mph because of icy conditions, while traffic on the M8 was delayed by a breakdown outside Edinburgh at Hermiston Gait.

Dozens of schools were closed including 20 in South Lanarkshire, while around 20 school bus services were disrupted in Aberdeenshire and the Borders.

Further disruption is likely today and into tomorrow in the north east of the country with yellow severe weather warnings still in place for the coming days, and up to 20cm of snow possible by the end of the week.

The Met Office warned of a chilly Easter.

Forecaster Charlie Powell said: “It won’t be as cold as it is now but it will still be a bit colder than average and conditions will be unsettled, especially in the west where it could be wetter than normal.”

Meanwhile, there was some criticism of responses to the weather. Edinburgh councillor and economy committee convener Frank Ross complained on Twitter in the morning: “Where are the gritters? Princes Street remains ungritted.”

Five hours later the city’s transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds posted a reply refuting the criticism, saying: “Grifters out since yesterday morning [They were] out four times through the night. Out all day today.”

The Alliance of British Drivers said there was “no excuse” for councils not to keep all main roads clear.

Transport Scotland said it “sympathised” with drivers over problems but maintained that gritters had done everything possible during the ongoing cold snap.

A spokesman said yesterday: “The sporadic heavy snowfall combined with morning peak traffic volumes, a number of incidents and breakdowns at critical locations, has caused more delays than we would normally anticipate for this type of weather event.

“All 90 front-line gritters were out providing full treatments last night and this morning, with a further 40 gritters patrolling continually from 2am on Saturday morning.”

Fife Council also defended its response to the weather.

Jim Coleman, council duty winter manager, said: “We have had a full team of 23 gritters out overnight in difficult conditions, gritting all primary one routes. Gritting of all primary routes commenced again at 7:30am with 12 small gritters deployed to treat secondary routes.”