Winter is in full swing, with snow, sleet and freezing temperatures always lingering on the horizon.
While the New Year has kicked off with a relatively mild start, harsher weather conditions could soon be on there way.
Is Scotland well prepared if the wintry weather takes a turn for the worse?
Heavy rain and ‘severe gales’
This weekend Scotland is set to see heavy, persistent rain and strong winds.
The Met Office forecast for Saturday (4 Jan) explains that there it will be “dry for much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland with sunny spells in east and south England.
“Persistent rain North Scotland spreading to the Northern Isles later with strengthening winds.”
The outlook for Sunday to Tuesday forecasts: “Unsettled, mild and windy with rain or showers, which will be heavy at times, especially in Northwest Scotland where severe gales are likely at times.”
‘Showers could turn to snow’
These heavy showers in Scotland could then turn into snowier conditions towards the beginning of next week.
The Met Office UK outlook for Wednesday 8 Jan to Friday 17 Jan said: “It looks likely to stay unsettled across the northwest with spells of locally heavy rain and strengthening winds interspersed with scattered showers.
“These showers could turn to snow over higher ground in the north.”
The forecast for Thursday 16 Jan to Thursday 30 Jan further builds on this, adding: “Spells of heavy rain and strong winds look most likely across northern and western parts.
“These could be interspersed by more showery interludes where some snow could fall over higher ground.”
The weather is most likely to remain unsettled with spells of rain, heavy at times, accompanied by strong winds, especially across the north and north west. There is a chance some of this rain could fall as snow over mountain tops and hills in the north.
Preparations in place
If wintry weather does hit the country, then different areas currently have preparations in place in order to be able to deal with snowier and cooler conditions.
North Ayrshire Council has a squad of 35 drivers and 15 multi-purpose vehicles will be available 24/7 to keep the area’s priority routes in use throughout winter.
They have “some 7,000 tonnes of road salt is stocked at the Council’s mainland storage depot in Kilwinning, with a further 1,600 tonne stockpile being kept at the
depot at Brodick in Arran.”
David Hammond, Head of Commercial Services, said: “Our gritters were tested in a practice drill prior to winter to ensure they are primed to respond if the winter weather takes a turn for the worse. They have already been out and about carrying out precautionary salting. “We have round-the-clock measures in place to keep our priority routes clear
and keep North Ayrshire moving.”
Similarly, other areas of Ayrshire have preparations in place should extreme winter weather hit.
Kevin Braidwood, acting Head of Ayrshire Roads Alliance advised: "We are, as always, prepared for adverse weather.
"We have sufficient salt stocks and appropriate rotas with external support in place, if required, to call on.
"Our teams constantly monitor short,medium and long term forecasts."
Inverclyde Council has over 400 grit bins located around Inverclyde that the public can use to treat their own pathways and their website contains clear details of their gritting routes.
The Highland Council is also ready for winter weather and has been gritting council roads and pavements according to the council’s winter maintenance programme.
A spokesperson added: “The council has adequate salt stocks for the region using around 50,000 tonnes in the winter season.
There are no concerns about future provision of deliveries from the council’s supplier.”
Chair of the Council’s Communities and Place Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: “We have supplies and resources in place to provide a winter service this year on Highland Council roads and pavements according to Council policy.”
The winter fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors, 2 snowblowers and over 200 staff providing winter maintenance services.