By Rory Reynolds
RAF rescue helicopters were on high alert last night ready to help hundreds of motorists caught in plunging temperatures after they became stuck in heavy snow for more than 10 hours.
The alert was sparked after traffic on the main A9 road in Perthshire came to a standstill at 7.30am when power lines came down on the busy route blocking it off to around 400 vehicles.
Blizzard conditions also meant cars and lorries became stuck and were left unable to move back down the single road.
Police enlisted volunteers in 4x4s provide food and drinks, many of which had been stuck in their cars for at least 10 hours.
Commuters and families were still trapped on the road in sub-zero conditions as 12 snow ploughs tried to open up a route.
A spokeswoman for Tayside Police said: “We have officers on the A9 now and we are working with Scottish and Southern Energy to help their engineers to fix the line.
Danger to lives
“Bear Scotland is currently using 12 snow ploughs to try and clear some of the snow, which is very heavy in that area.”
A spokesman for RAF Search and Rescue said: “We are carefully monitoring the situation and will mobilise our search and rescue operations if there is any danger to lives.
A spokesman for Scottish and Southern Energy said: “We are doing everything we can to restore the power supply as quickly and as safely as possible.
“We drafted extra staff in ahead of the bad weather to minimise disruption to our customers.”
The Met Office said that conditions overnight will be “extremely unpleasant” to anyone outside in Perthshire overnight.
Forecaster Helen Chivers said: “We’re expecting very heavy snow over Perthshire until around Friday night and if it’s not snowing it will be sleeting.
“It will be around zero degrees outside, but the wind chill factor of 15 mph will make that feel like -6C.
“It’s going to be extremely unpleasant for anyone outside or trying to work in those conditions.”
Last night a spokesman for BEAR Scotland, which manages Scotland’s trunk roads, said: “At the moment we have 12 snow ploughs and one snow blower trying to clear a path on the A9.
“We’ll continue through the night with eight gritters to try and open it up for tomorrow and get two lanes running
“Tayside Police have set up a control room in Perth to handle this and we will be liaising with them on the situation.”