THOUSANDS of Edinburgh motorists have been placed on black ice alert, with widespread warnings of treacherous driving conditions across the region.
The Met Office said drivers across the Capital face a significant black ice risk over the next 24 hours as snowfall thaws and re-freezes.
The resulting treacherous black ice will turn untreated roads into accident- inducing skid pans.
With five centimetres of snow due to fall last night, Met Office spokesman Dan Williams said the knock-on ice effect could spell misery for thousands of commuters.
He said: “You can get patches of black ice or even a layer of ice beneath any snow, even if it’s a thin layer of snow. There is a risk to local roads.
“The advice would be really to take care and stay up to date with all the local traffic and travel advice. I would say it’s possible to see some disruption to travel.”
The warning was issued as Edinburgh’s wintry weather forced the closure of one school and the cancellation of ten flights out of Scotland’s busiest airport yesterday.
The Baltic weather – being felt across Europe – also forced six arrivals into the airport to be cancelled.
The Forth Road Bridge was closed to all high sided vehicles, cars with trailers, caravans, bicycles and pedestrians for about seven hours yesterday.
An Edinburgh Airport spokesman said he hoped disruptions would be kept to a minimum over coming days. He said: “The cancellations are all because of the situation in other airports because of the snow. The affected airports include Heathrow, Amsterdam, London City, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Birmingham and Frankfurt.
“We’re a bit more used to snow than other airports perhaps in the south. We have invested in our snow clearing ability and we have an experienced team.
“On the weekend we had between 4-5cm and we were able to deal with it quite readily. But if we get lots of snow, it’s always going to be a challenge.”
Leith Academy is the only school affected by the weather snap so far. It will be shut until at least tomorrow due to heating problems.
Forecaster Mr Williams said anyone hoping to go sledging at the weekend could be in for disappointment – as the snow is expected to ease off.
He said: “Even on Wednesday you could see some flurries of snow, but I don’t think it’ll add too much to any totals.”
City environment leader Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “Our gritting teams continue to work round the clock to ensure that we keep the city moving.”
Historic Scotland issued a warning last night to any brave souls considering climbing Arthur’s Seat. Martin Gray, ranger and visitor services manager at Historic Scotland, said: “Underfoot conditions can be very slippery. Drivers within the park should take normal precautions for driving in poor conditions.”
Sledgers are also being warned to be careful after a 16-year-old suffered a broken leg after falling 150ft at Blackford Hill after coming off his sledge.