Scottish police are advising motorists not to travel in the country’s central belt because of icy driving conditions even as most of the motorway network around Edinburgh and Glasgow opened.
Central Scotland and Lothian and Borders police said on their websites that people should drive in the center of the country only if “absolutely necessary.”
The only motorway that was still closed at 1.45 p.m. today is a westbound stretch of the M8 near Edinburgh, according to Traffic Scotland. Lothian and Borders police are still clearing trucks that had parked overnight on the trunk road. The motorway is the main road link between the capital and Glasgow.
“These are the worst traffic conditions we have seen in Scotland in the 11 years I have been here,” said Mick Savage, head of U.K. networks at Trafficmaster, which has a network of 5,200 sensors covering all of the country’s motorways.
As much as 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) of snow fell in a few hours yesterday as temperatures dropped to as low as minus 18 Celsius (minus 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit) forcing the closure of Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, which reopened earlier today.
The Met Office has severe weather warnings in place for widespread icy roads throughout Scotland and Northern Ireland with more snow predicted in Orkney and Shetland, the Highlands and Grampian regions.
Most rail services are delayed or canceled, according to the ScotRail website, with the Edinburgh to Glasgow line running a limited service.
Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson apologized in a British Broadcasting Corp. interview for the difficulties caused to people who had been stuck in their cars overnight.
“Scotland has been in the grip of the worst snow and ice conditions in the early winter since the 1960s,” he said in a statement. “Snow was predicted but was significantly heavier than expected and timing during rush hour made conditions worse.”
All Glasgow City Council schools and nurseries will be closed today because of the severe weather, according to the council’s website. A total of 900 schools across Scotland are closed today giving 200,000 pupils a day off, according to the BBC. In South Lanarkshire, 150 pupils and staff spent the night in their school in Hamilton.