Travel conditions warning
Motorists are being warned to brace themselves for potential travel disruption during tomorrow (Tuesday) evening's rush hour, when the next phase of unsettled weather is expected to sweep across parts of the Central belt.
The Met Office has today issued a yellow warning for snow in southern Highland, Grampian, Tayside, Fife, Central, Lothian & Borders, Strathclyde and Dumfries & Galloway which is valid from 3am tomorrow for a 24-hour period. Strong winds and gusts in excess of 60mph are possible through the Central belt. Heavy snowfalls above 200m could lead to blizzard conditions across higher ground. The types of locations which could be affected are the M8 around Harthill and the M77 Fenwick.
While conditions will not reach the severe levels witnessed last Thursday, the unsettled weather is set to continue through the week and the public are advised to keep up to date with forecasts and information from Traffic Scotland. Police are expected to declare a level three 'high risk of disruption for road journeys' warning for some parts - but have stressed that different parts of the central belt will be more adversely affected than others and have asked the public to stay tuned to local radio for more precise updates.
Last week saw the unprecedented step of the level four warning: 'avoid travelling on the roads' being issued. In addition to the police's extensive communications channels, the advice is provided to road users through Transport Scotland's network of Variable Message Signs, the Traffic Scotland website, radio travel information broadcasts and the Traffic Scotland Customer Careline.
Transport Scotland's Multi Agency Response Team (MART) has been activated and is liaising with the Met Office, Network Rail, the police and operating companies to ensure preparations are in place as the weather situation develops this week and that public messaging is rapid, consistent and as up-to-date as possible.
Following a meeting of the Scottish Government's Resilience team earlier today, Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
"Last week demonstrated what can be achieved with the right levels of preparation and appropriate warnings in place for the public. It was a co-ordinated and effective response with the public playing their part by responding to pleas from the police and Transport Scotland not to take any chances on the roads. Traffic levels across the main roads network were down by around a fifth. That meant less HGVs and fewer incidents for the police to respond to than we would normally expect following a red level warning from the Met Office and some of the most severe storms to hit Scotland in a decade.
"According to the Met Office this week won't be as severe, however the forecast does present another serious test for our systems and lines of communication. We cannot control the weather, and disruption cannot be ruled out, but the wide range of measures taken has paid dividends so far.
"The latest forecast suggests that from around 3pm tomorrow winds gusting to 50-60 mph will start in the west and move east across the central belt. While these are less ferocious that last week the added complication is that they will bring up to 10cm of snow to ground over 200m. Moving into Thursday and Friday a new low will impact across the UK and may bring high winds and snow to parts of Scotland. The Met Office are actively monitoring the situation and will update us as the week progresses. I would again urge the public to check radio reports and the Traffic Scotland website for updates."
Transport Scotland, working in partnership with the police, has developed a severe weather information strategy to warn and inform road users when significant disruption to the road network is expected during extreme weather. The advice and information service will commence when severe weather is forecast within Scotland. Forecast information will be provided in advance and during severe weather conditions. The travel advice will relate to three specific stages which will be adopted depending on the severity of the weather:
Travel with caution - Police are advising people that conditions for road travel are hazardous and drivers should exercise extra caution
High risk of disruption for road journeys - Police are advising that conditions for travel are extremely poor and there is a high risk of disruption for road journeys. Travellers are likely to experience significant delays
Avoid travelling on the roads - Police advise drivers to avoid travelling on the roads. Travellers will experience severe delays of several hours or more.
This advice will be provided to road users through Transport Scotland's network of Variable Message Signs, the Traffic Scotland website, radio travel information broadcasts and the Traffic Scotland Customer Careline.
Rail, ferries and air travel - check with individual service operators' websites.