Lothian in firing line as winter storms approach

The rain-lashed waterfront at South Queensferry yesterday afternoon

The rain-lashed waterfront at South Queensferry yesterday afternoon

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MOTORISTS are being warned freezing temperatures are expected to hit the Lothians by rush hour today with forecasters warning of worse to come.

High winds and heavy snow could descend on the Lothians again this week with storms expected to lash Scotland from Friday.

Yesterday, the region was battered by severe weather.

Winds of up to 50mph closed the Forth Road Bridge to high-sided vehicles.

Edinburgh Castle closed at around 2pm because of high winds, as did Christmas attractions including the Princes Street Gardens ice rink. The Seafield recycling plant also closed due to the weather.

The Royal High Primary was closed this morning due to boiler failure, with parents advised to check the council website or phone the school for an update.

The Met Office upgraded its weather alert from yellow to amber for heavy snow across some parts of the country.

The city council’s gritters worked throughout last night on priority roads in anticipation of snow and ice while mini tractors began salting pavements at 5am today.

Met Office forecaster Helen Chivers said storms forecast to hit parts of Scotland on Friday could bring heavy sleet and snow to the Lothians.

She said: “The worst-case scenario would be heavy sleet and snow on Friday if the Lothians catch that tail end of the storms forecast.

“Temperatures could get down to -3C at the weekend.”

Ahead of the weekend, snow was expected this morning on the Pentlands.

After a dry spell this afternoon with some sunshine, temperatures are expected to dip below zero by rush hour.

Ms Chivers added: “Wednesday into Thursday it’s likely to remain dry and the wind will drop off, so you might see some frost overnight, with ice patches on the roads on Thursday morning.”

Last Thursday, schools and roads across the Lothians were closed, trees blown down and buildings damaged when gusts of up to 86mph hit the region.

Planes at Edinburgh Airport struggled to land before many were cancelled due to high winds.

Police advised against all non-essential travel for seven hours during the day.

Despite the disruption Transport Minister Keith Brown said planning had prevented the situation becoming worse, and that the authorities would be prepared for more severe weather this week.

He said: “Last week demonstrated what can be achieved with the right levels of preparation and appropriate warnings in place for the public.

“We cannot control the weather, and disruption cannot be ruled out, but the wide range of measures taken has paid dividends so far.”