FORECASTERS have warned drivers to expect widespread ice on the roads this weekend as temperatures in the Lothians dip to as low as -5C.
The Met Office warned of sleet and snow showers along with extensive frost and ice in the mornings.
Drivers were being urged to take care as they set out on the busiest shopping weekend of the year as black ice patches were anticipated in some areas.
Council gritters were expected to be operating on roads and pavements, although the AA has warned that coverings can be washed from surfaces.
It has urged motorists to drive slowly and beware of adverse weather conditions.
The Met Office said to expect sleet and showers in the mornings, followed by bright but freezing conditions.
Forecaster Helen Chivers told the Evening News: “We’ll have pretty a sharp frost throughout the weekend with temperatures dropping to between -2C and -5C at night.
“We’re looking at sleet and snow showers over the weekend, largely overnight and in the morning, with brighter conditions in the afternoon.
“By Saturday night the temperature will drop to below freezing and risk of ice returns.
“On Sunday we can expect to again see icy patches, sleet and snow but hopefully better prospects in the afternoon. There could be some black ice, so be aware of that.”
Across Scotland temperatures will remain low this weekend, although warmer weather is expected next week.
Gavin Hill-Smith, a spokesman for the AA, warned drivers to be careful, especially in the mornings.
He said: “For drivers setting out in the morning it can be quite difficult to determine what are patches of water and what is, in fact, ice.
“Even if your in-car thermometer is above freezing the ground may well still be frozen, and any rain that falls can freeze over.
“The problem we’ve seen last year, and are starting to see again this year, is that the rain will come in and wash away any salt on the road and freeze over, so even if the road has been gritted don’t necessarily assume it’s not frozen.
“The best thing to do if things are slippy is keep your speed down and make sure there’s a much bigger distance from the car in front.
“The most common mistake is getting too close and if you do hit ice you may not be able to stop in time. The stopping distance can be ten-fold.
“To be fair, I think everyone is a bit more used to severe weather.”