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Sigurd
Saturday, March 4th, 2006, 03:05 PM
See in what a chaos I find myself...

Scotland seizes up as blizzards move south

FRANK URQUHART, JOHN ROSS AND JONATHAN LESSWARE


RECORD-BREAKING snowfalls brought parts of Scotland to a standstill yesterday as the Arctic weather spread south across the country.

Heavy blizzards hit the central belt with Fife, the Lothians and parts of Dumfries and Galloway suffering heavy snow showers throughout the morning, forcing 48 schools to shut. In Stranraer, 15 schools closed as a severe snowstorm swept along the coast causing drifting and risky road conditions.

Parts of Midlothian were also under several inches of snow, while Edinburgh was also blanketed.

The north remained under a carpet of white with the Met Office confirming that the accumulation of snow at Aberdeen airport so far this month had reached 26cm (ten inches) by midday - beating the previous March record of 25cm set in 1958, the year its records began.

Traffic on almost every major route in the north-east was trapped in a major gridlock during the morning rush hour after heavy overnight falls left snow-clearing crews fighting a losing battle.

Between 10-15cm of fresh snow fell in the Highlands, adding to the chaos and disruption of the previous few days.

More than 300 schools across the north remained shut, while

all the schools in Shetland and all but three in Orkney remained closed for the third day in succession.

The overnight snowfalls also caused traffic gridlock in the centre of Inverness as morning commuters fought their way to work. One driver said that the main A96 Inverness-to-Aberdeen road resembled a car park because of the number of abandoned vehicles.

A spokesman for Grampian police urged motorists to be particularly cautious and only travel if the journey was essential.

The snowfall also affected the weekend sporting fixtures, with six Scottish League games cancelled and heated discussions over whether two Scottish Premier League matches should go ahead.

Some areas saw spectacular thunder and lightning storms and accompanying hail. A Met Office spokesman said: "There are probably parts of Aberdeenshire and Moray with over a foot of snow and there is no sign of conditions easing.

"A new cold front is coming down from the north this weekend. The winds will also pick up again and we could see some drifting problems returning over the weekend for Aberdeenshire.

"A good part of Scotland will have seen snow today, and there will be further snow showers over the weekend."

The spokesman added: "Winter thunderstorms are not unusual in themselves, but what is very unusual is to have deep snow cover and thunderstorms at the same time."

Aberdeen-based Northsound Radio went off air for about 15 minutes after its mast was struck by lightning.

Meanwhile, ice on the River Dee has forced the postponement of today's annual boat race between crews from Aberdeen University and Robert Gordon University.

Air services in the Highlands and Islands were disrupted for the fourth consecutive day. Airports at Campbeltown, Islay, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Tiree were all closed first thing yesterday morning as heavy showers continued to fall.

Source (http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=328812006)