Drivers have been warned to be on red alert for freezing rain and black ice as driving conditions become particularly hazardous thanks to Scotland’s extreme weather.
Motoring group RAC has labelled freezing rain as one of the greatest challenges faced by motorists as temperatures finally start to rise over coming days.
RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Droplets of rain which come into contact with the ground and other surfaces freeze instantly.
“This creates a huge hazard as roads may look clear and safe, despite actually being potentially icy death traps.
“Where freezing rain is forecast, put simply drivers should avoid using their vehicles in affected areas.
“Signs of freezing rain can be seen when droplets of ice start forming on anything it hits such as trees, fences, on windscreen wipers and mirrors. “Also if you have a temperature gauge on your dashboard and it is reading zero degrees or less and it starts to rain then you know it is very likely to turn to freezing rain.
“If this is the case, it will form sheet ice on the roads very quickly, making for particularly treacherous driving conditions. Rain can also freeze directly on to the windscreen while you’re driving, so keep the blowers hot and directed here to reduce the chance of this happening.
“If you are driving and encounter freezing rain, slow down gently and be prepared for your vehicle to lose grip and potentially skid.
“Hold the steering wheel with both hands, try to use lower revs by getting into a higher gear and avoid braking on bends by slowing down on the straight.”
Members of the public are being urged to plan ahead and to only travel if necessary today as the extreme cold weather continues to wreak havock across much of the country.
A yellow ‘be aware’ warning remains in force for most of Scotland, with a focus on eastern areas.
Traffic Scotland has warned that “significant disruption to transport should be expected” while services are restored.
The extreme cold weather is expected to continue over the weekend and into next week.
Met Office chief meteotrologist Paul Gundersen said; “It will remain very cold in many places today, but temperatures will slowly increase from the south, generally up to around 4 or 5C quite widely by the end of the weekend and we could even see up to 9C to 10C in southern areas.
“It will remain coldest in the east of the country and over the deepest snow cover.
“As we head into next week there is likely to be more of a north-south split in weather conditions.
“There will continue to be a risk of rain, sleet and snow at times. The less cold air means there will be a gradual thaw, but this will freeze again overnight, so ice is likely be an additional overnight hazard together with low cloud and fog.
“Colder conditions will continue in the north, with snow showers, although less heavy and less frequent than of late.”
A further meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room (SGoRR) will be held this morning to ensure preparations and appropriate measures are in place.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “While the extreme weather conditions begin to ease I would urge people to continue to take care and to check for the latest guidance from Police Scotland throughout the day. Snow showers are still expected throughout the day and a yellow warning is in place throughout today and into the weekend.
“We would expect to see continued disruption to travel and difficult road conditions over the course of the day so I would encourage everyone to check in with travel operators ahead of any journey, and for parents to check school notices with their local authorities.
“Consider if you need to make your journey and if you do set out make sure you are properly prepared with a winter kit, warm clothing, food and drink.
“This has been a challenging few days for people across the country and I must thank our emergency services and those individuals who have gone above and beyond in difficult conditions.”
Police Scotland Superintendent Helen Harrison said:
“The multi-agency command centre that we have been running all week to deal with the travel issues the severe weather has brought will be in operation right through the weekend. The snow is not due to stop, and neither will we until we are confident that the risks associated with travelling in the poor conditions have reduced significantly.
“The snow has settled and is not expected to thaw, so extreme care will still need to be taken on the roads towards lunchtime and beyond, as public transport systems also start to operate again. You should still consider if your journey is necessary and think about using buses and trains when they are running or postponing your travel until weather has improved further.
“Make sure you check your vehicle thoroughly before starting your journey to make sure lights, washers and wipers are all working properly and tyres are correctly inflated. Clear all snow from the windows and roof so as not to cause a hazard to yourself and others when driving. There is more information on winter driving as well as making your way safely on foot or by cycle on our website atwww.scotland.police.uk.”.