Amber warning for ice and snow
People are being warned to expect dangerous travelling conditions this weekend, with amber warnings for snow and ice in place for large parts of Scotland.
The Met Office has issued an amber warning for ice, covering most of the Central Belt, Strathclyde, the Borders, Dumfries & Galloway and southern areas of Tayside and Fife. An amber warning for snow is also in place across Stirlingshire, Perthshire, parts of Grampian and the southern Highlands. A further yellow warning for snow and ice remains in place for almost all of mainland Scotland. These warnings will last from Saturday morning until Sunday morning.
Freezing rain may be a particular problem, causing ice to form on roads and pavements at short notice. This is difficult to treat and will impact driving conditions, as well as create treacherous underfoot conditions, increasing the risk of injuries from slips and falls.
Other potential impacts of the amber warnings include long delays and cancellations on bus, rail and air travel. Roads may be affected by deep snow, particularly over higher routes, and some rural communities might be cut off. Interruptions to power supplies and telephone networks could also occur.
A meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room (SGoRR) has been held today to ensure Ministers are kept up to date on plans to deal with the forecast conditions and the contingencies that are in place if the weather worsens.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:
“This is the first significant weather warning of the Christmas period, and we are likely to see dangerous travelling conditions. People should heed the warnings of the potential for freezing rain and ice in particular.
“I would encourage people in the affected areas to consider whether they need to make their journey. If they do, they should expect disruption. Drivers should plan their routes, leave plenty of time, follow Police Scotland travel advice and drive to the conditions.
“Our operating companies will closely monitor the trunk road network to provide appropriate treatments and help motorists where necessary. Drivers can use the Traffic Scotland mobile website - my.trafficscotland.org - to get the latest information on the trunk road network, as well as check the @trafficscotland twitter page for updates.
“If you are planning to travel by rail, air or ferry, please check with your operator before setting off to see if your service has been affected.”
Superintendent Louise Blakelock, Deputy Head of Road Policing for Police Scotland, said:
“Following an Amber and Yellow Weather Warning issued this afternoon by the Met Office, there is a high risk of disruption to road journeys in all areas of mainland Scotland.
"Freezing rain is highly unusual and is expected to result in the rapid development of widespread ice, which will lead to dangerous travelling conditions. I appreciate that many people will be planning Christmas shopping trips this weekend and have festive social events planned with family and friends however, if you do travel, you are likely to experience significant delays.
"Congestion caused by all vehicles may restrict the emergency services, recovery vehicles, gritters and snowploughs from providing essential assistance or from clearing roads. Drivers of goods vehicles and buses should drive with extreme caution and be aware that you may be requested to park at a suitable position by the police.
"Winter driving is a question of common sense and all drivers should ask themselves if they really need to travel when conditions are poor. No-one should ever place themselves at risk on the road and it may be worth making alternative arrangements such as delaying travel until conditions improve or using public transport.
"If you are travelling on the roads you should ensure you and your vehicle are adequately prepared for the conditions, making sure you have sufficient fuel and supplies such as warm clothing, food and water in the event you are delayed for several hours. Charge your mobile phone and plan your route as well as alternative routes.
“Finally, I urge everyone who does intend to travel to listen to media broadcasts especially local radio and Traffic Scotland Radio or visit www.trafficscotland.org. For public transport information visit www.travelinescotland.com Follow @policescotland and @trafficscotland on Twitter for regular and up to date travel information."
Will Lang, Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office said:
“Saturday’s weather brings a range of winter hazards, with heavy snow, blizzards and widespread ice from freezing rain expected for many parts of Scotland.
“In combination with strong winds, these hazards are likely to make journeys both on foot and in vehicles dangerous, so we are urging people to check the latest weather forecast and warnings and to take extra care when walking and driving.”