Chaos as Scotland is held in an icy grip
SCHOOLS were closed and roads blocked by stranded vehicles as heavy snowfalls hit parts of Scotland at the height of the rush hour.
• Several schools have been forced to close after heavy snow across the north east of Scotland
• Conditions in Aberdeenshire and Angus “atrocious”
• Met Office has upgraded England weather warning to just one step below national emergency level
• Scotland set to escape worst of wintry weather as showers expected to move south
Conditions were described as atrocious in Aberdeenshire and Angus as official weather alerts across the UK highlighted the widespread risk of travel chaos due to ice, snow and freezing temperatures.
The A90 and A96 in and out of Aberdeenwere badly affected with snow and abandoned vehicles as drivers struggled to cope in the first cold snap of the year.
Thousands of people across the UK contacted the AA’s breakdown service for help, with call-outs peaking at 1,800 an hour, including 23 for cars stuck in snow – mostly in Aberdeenshire, Oxfordshire and East Midlands.
A car in Aberdeenshire landed on its roof on the B977, but Grampian Police said there were no reports of serious injuries.
More than 20 schools in Aberdeenshire and Angus closed or reported transport problems, including the Chapel of Garioch School, near Inverurie, which shut because all the surrounding roads were impassable due to vehicles that had become stuck.
More snow was expected last night across the UK, with up to 10cm in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and East Anglia.
While Scotland overall was initially expected to escape the worst, with wintry showers likely to move south later on, forecasters warned that high winds could bring blizzards before the end of the week.
Temperatures in Scotland were predicted to plummet as low as –10C.
The Met Office urged people to check on the welfare of elderly people and other at-risk groups. In England, it upgraded its “cold weather action” warning for health and social services to level three – which is only one step down from a national emergency.
Charles Powell, Met Office forecaster, said: “A few more showers are expected this afternoon and evening, falling as a mix of rain, sleet and snow.
“It could reach –8C tonight, and Tuesday will be mainly dry, but it will stay cold, with temperatures in Scotland dropping to quite a bit below average by the middle of the week.
“It could be –9 or –10 at night on Tuesday and Wednesday, and in the day it will only reach highs of one to two degrees.
“There is a serious risk of ice on the roads, and it’s certainly cold enough that people should be thinking about those in
vulnerable groups, the elderly, the young and people with respiratory problems.”
A south-easterly wind is expected to sweep across Scotland on Thursday, although the Met Office said it was too soon to be sure whether it would bring blizzards.
However, experts at Meteo weather group suggested blizzards were a real risk.
John Lee, Meteo forecaster, said: “There could be quite strong winds with the potential for some blizzard-like conditions in Scotland and the north of England.”
Met Office yellow “be prepared” weather warnings remained in place into today for all of Scotland, except Orkney and Shetland.