Police warn not to travel as white hell strikes



SCOTLAND faces being brought to a complete standstill overnight in areas worst affected by white out conditions.

Police warned only those people with essential journeys should even attempt to make them with blizzards expected to strike with a vengeance.

The Met Office said conditions were so serious they had issued Flash warnings of heavy snow to continue until at least 6am, with thousands are expected to be stranded at home come Monday morning.

Edinburgh Airport was forced to close for several hours because of the white out conditions.

It was followed by Glasgow which also had to suspend services for a time.

The M8 motorway – normally Scotland’s busiest route – was reduced to a single lane in both directions.

AA staff were working flat out with n 80 per cent surge in call outs compared with this time last year.

Bus services in Stirlingshire were scrapped all together, while the A9 and roads in the north were said to be horrendous.

Train companies reported difficult conditions, with Scotrail forced to axe services between Bathgate and Edinburgh.

Council staff were assessing conditions before deciding whether or not schools could open as usual.

The Met Office tonight issued a Flash warning for Lothian and the Borders and South West Scotland.

It said those regions could expect as much as 20 centimetres of snow on top of that already lying.

Police forces warned people not to journey outside unless absolutely necessary.

Temperatures were set to plunge further , northern parts already having suffered a record low for November of minus 15 degrees Celcius.

Council staff and gritting teams worked around the clock in a seemingly losing battle to keep main roads open.

City of Edinburgh Council  said its staff have been working around the clock to help keep the city moving during the ongoing severe weather as it implemented its emergency planning procedures.

A spokeswoman said: “Gritters have been working 24-hours-a-day all weekend in response to the heavy snowfalls.

“Due to the intensity of the snowfalls, we have concentrated all our resources on keeping Category 1 – essential main roads, such as roads to hospitals and principal bus routes – open as our top priority.

“However, this has proved difficult in the ongoing severe weather.

“All staff have been mobilised and staff have been redeployed from street cleansing and roads maintenance duties to assist with gritting over the weekend, targeting priority areas such as shopping centres.”

Councillor Robert Aldridge, Environment Leader, said: “The past 24 hours or so have seen something in the region of between six and ten inches of snow fall in Edinburgh.

“This is an abnormally high volume of snow for this sort of time period and our staff have been working continuously since Friday night to keep the city’s main routes passable.

“Residents should check Radio Forth for updates and take extra care if they need to head out.

“We’re also asking people to look out for their vulnerable neighbours and use grit in the bins provided by the Council to help us keep pavements clear.”

Euan Kennedy, Head of Roads, said: “We have mobilised all our gritters and mini-tractors and they have been working around the clock since Friday night to keep the city’s Category 1 roads and pavements clear as far as possible in the continued snow showers.

“Our gritting operations are based on the weather forecasts we get from the Met Office.

“Further snow showers are forecast therefore the priority continues to be Category 1 routes, which are currently passable with care. Category 2 and 3 roads (including residential) will be targeted as soon as the weather situation improves.”

The severe weather also forced the cancellation of the St Andrew’s Day events and Nativity Carol Concert, due to be held in St Andrew Square today.

There were no reported plans for school closures in Edinburgh, but Midlothian said all its schools would be closed.

Tayside Police were advising all motorists in the area not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

The weather conditions across the region were making driving conditions increasingly difficult and this is not being helped by motorists who are getting stuck on the roads due to the snow.

Several jack knifed Lorries on various roads have blocked the roads causing large tailbacks.

A number of major roads were closed due to snow and traffic conditions and most minor roads are badly affected by snow and ice.

A spokesman added: “Due to the widespread nature of the current severe weather event members of the public are asked to be aware of vulnerable individuals within their communities who may need additional help.

The Scottish Government – which expected to receive more salt stocks to Leith on Monday – said Scotland is braced and ready for winter with more than 360,000 tonnes of stock and grit in depots and a further 100,000 tonnes on order.

But Justice Secretary Kenny warned: “It is inevitable that ice and snow will make driving conditions difficult during this time, and will result in delays.

“Motorists must pay attention to police advice where that is given, and there are resources available for people planning essential journeys.”

In Glasgow a free family ceildh scheduled to be held in George Square was axed because of the conditions.

The Dundee Utd against Rangers and Motherwell versus Hearts football matches also fell victim to the white out conditions.

Weather experts said the weekend conditions were the worst suffered in a November by Scots since the white hell of 1993.