Icy blast hits roads and schools in east of Scotland
Snow falls have been causing problems for roads and schools in parts of the north and east of Scotland.
Most affected are Grampian and the Borders, with predictions that snow will spread to the rest of the country by the weekend.
After a brief respite this afternoon hazardous conditions will return to the north overnight, with ice quickly forming and snow showers intensifying. These showers will become frequent, prolonged and heavy at times, adding to existing falls of snow.
In contrast, southern and central Scotland will initially be dry, clear and frosty, with temperatures as low as -6C, but a few snow flurries will appear by morning.
Tomorrow will bring little change in the distribution of showers. Central and southern Scotland will catch a few light snow flurries initially, giving a dusting of snow in places.
These will clear, leaving much of the day dry and sunny. Northern and eastern parts will stay wintry, with further sleet and snow showers feeling bitterly cold.
The cold snap will tighten its grip through the weekend and linger into next week, with snow affecting more areas.
Grampian Police said conditions across the area were treacherous and some high-level roads had been closed. Drivers were urged to take extra care.
More than 120 schools have been affected in Aberdeenshire.
The Met Office later issued a fresh warning of heavy snow for Grampian, the Highlands, Orkney and Shetland, and of widespread icy roads for those three areas as well as Angus, Dundee and the Borders.
In the Borders region, Berwickshire and parts of Roxburghshire have seen a significant snowfall overnight, with up to three inches lying in some parts.
The A68 was among the routes worst affected.
Pupils at half a dozen schools in the east of the Borders were also sent home at 1300 GMT due to "deteriorating weather and transport issues".
Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said Scotland was prepared for the "icy blast" and that lessons were learned after last year's severe winter, with authorities planning well ahead.
"The Scottish government, councils and other key services across Scotland pulled together last year to deal successfully with the coldest winter since 1914," she said.
"This year we are confident that we have planned well ahead, with councils reporting record levels of salt supplies and schools putting new closure alert systems in place for parents."
The Met Office forecast the cold snap to worsen over the coming days.
It said up to 20cm of snow could land on the Grampian Mountains by the end of Thursday and widespread ice would form on untreated surfaces.
Chief forecaster Andy Page said: "There is no doubt that the UK will see much colder conditions by the end of the week.
"Snow will also be a risk for many, and the public are advised to stay up-to-date with the forecast to make sure they have the latest information."
Aberdeenshire Council said its road crews were out in force across the area.
There were about 50 gritters, six snowploughs and 28 footpath gritters among the vehicles involved in the operation overnight and from 0530 GMT.
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Roads closed included the B974, the A939 at the Lecht, the A93 at Cairnwell, and the B976 Crathie to Gairnside.
The occupants of two cars escaped serious injury in separate accidents on the A90 in Aberdeenshire.
In the first a Fiat Panda landed on its roof after coming off the southbound carriageway south of Stonehaven.
And both carriageways were blocked after a Ford Galaxy lost control on the same road at Bridge of Muchalls.