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'High risk' of snow disruption in amber alert areas spark pleas to Highlanders

By Philip Murray

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People have been urged to check their journeys before travelling.
People have been urged to check their journeys before travelling.

"Do you really need to travel?", Highlanders have been asked amid a heightened amber snow alert and Met Office warnings of "significant" fresh totals in the coming days.

Police, transport chiefs and Met Office forecasters have all urged people to plan ahead and make sure their planned journeys are safe to travel in the north.

The pleas come after days of worsening conditions which left more than 100 Highland schools shut, and many bus services suspended across the region.

And with an updated amber warning for snow in the far north of Scotland due to come into force at 3pm on Wednesday, police have warned of a "high risk of disruption" in the coming days.

The forecast weather is likely to impact driving conditions, so motorists are being urged to check their route is passable before they travel, to plan ahead, and allow extra time for journeys where necessary. If you are planning to travel by rail, air or ferry, please check with your operator to see if your journey will be impacted.

Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said: “We know from recent severe weather events that it’s important to plan ahead if you are looking to travel. With the Met Office issuing an updated amber warning for snow in the north Highlands and Northern Isles, travel planning becomes vital.

“Police Scotland is warning of a high risk of disruption for the parts of the country covered by the amber warning, but yellow warnings can also be impactful and cause delays. Please allow extra time for your journey and consider if it can be delayed until conditions have improved.

“Winter resilience plans have been in full effect with teams across Scotland working overnight to grit the trunk road network for essential journeys. Local roads may also be impacted, so please make sure your route is available, follow the travel advice from Police Scotland and drive to the conditions.

“The latest information on the trunk road network is always available at www.traffic.gov.scot. If you are planning to travel by train, ferry or plane, please check with your operators as the forecast conditions could also impact your services.”

Gritters can also be tracked on the Traffic Scotland website at www.traffic.gov.scot/gritter-tracker. The map only covers gritters on trunk roads. Council gritters will also be in operation on other routes.

Chief Superintendent Hilary Sloan, Police Scotland’s head of road policing, said: “Our advice is to plan ahead and consider if your journey is really necessary during this latest spell of severe weather or if it can be delayed until conditions improve. If you absolutely have to travel, please drive to the conditions, be prepared for delays and allow extra time for your journey. Please don’t drive through road closures, the decision to close roads is not taken lightly and is done for public safety.”

Met Office chief meteorologist Jason Kelly said: “With deep snow already lying on the ground for many in Scotland, we’re going to see a significant topping up of totals over the next couple of days, especially for those in the north of Scotland.

“Within the amber warning area, an additional 15-20cm of snow is possible in a few locations. Strengthening north-westerly winds will also cause some lying snow to drift, potentially bringing some additional hazards, such as temporary blizzard conditions.”

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