Red alert: Public told to stay indoors during extreme snow
It is the first time the Met Office has ever issued a red alert for snow in Scotland.
The Met Office has issued a red alert for snow and urged Scots to remain indoors as an arctic blast sweeps across the country.
It is the first time the forecaster has issued a red snow alert in Scotland and the first anywhere in the UK since 2013.
The alert stretches across the central belt, covering Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dunfermline, while amber and yellow warnings remain in place elsewhere.
The extreme weather has already disrupted travel nationwide, with potentially life-threatening conditions in places.
Hundreds of schools are shut, Glasgow Airport is closed and dozens of train routes are affected.
'The snow is likely to cause power cuts and rural areas could become completely cut off.'Sean Batty
STV weather presenter Sean Batty said: "It is extremely significant that a red warning has been issued.
"It means transport routes and travel services will be affected for a prolonged period and you can expect long travel delays. There's likely to be a large numbers of stranded vehicles and passengers with widespread disruption to rail, road and air services.
"The snow is likely to cause power cuts in some areas and drifting snow at higher levels could block some roads. This means that rural areas could become completely cut off. Mobile phone and internet is also likely to be affected by the wintry conditions."
The Siberian chill has been branded the "Beast from the East" and yellow and amber warnings have been in place across most of Scotland since Monday.
"In eastern and central areas there will widely be around 5 to 10cm of snow by the end of Wednesday, with up to 25cm in areas where the showers become more prolonged," Sean said.
"In higher areas there could be as much as 30 to 40cm of snow."
Dry and powdery snow could cause snow drifts to accumulate in eastern and western parts of Scotland, including the Hebrides.
"The wind will lead to an extreme wind chill, with gales at times along the Angus, Aberdeenshire and Fife coast," Sean continued.
"The wind will also be strong across the Hebrides. It looks like being one of our coldest February days for a long time, with temperature staying below freezing throughout the day for most places. With the wind, it will feel more like -10C on the east coast and -7C in the west.
"There is a risk of a more prolonged spell of snow affecting the central belt later in the afternoon and overnight tonight, bringing a further several centimetres of snow.
"This could impact the evening commute and people out and about should plan for this, and keep up to date with the latest information."
Transport Scotland has asked people to avoid travelling in the worst-hit areas if possible and warned motorists could find themselves stranded.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf said: "The Met Office is telling us that we're going to see some extremely challenging conditions over the next few days, so I'd urge people follow police advice and to avoid travel in the areas affected by the amber snow warnings.
"Consider if you need to make your journey. If you do set out, you are likely to face disruption and could potentially be stranded, so make sure you are properly prepared with a winter kit, warm clothing, food and drink."
What Met Office weather warnings mean
- Yellow Severe weather is possible and could affect you. Yellow means you should plan ahead thinking about possible travel delays or the disruption of your day to day activities. The Met Office is monitoring the developing weather situation and Yellow means keep an eye on the latest forecast and be aware that the weather may change or worsen, leading to disruption of your plans in the next few days.
- Amber There is an increased likelihood of bad weather affecting you which could potentially disrupt your plans and possibly cause travel delays, road and rail closures, interruption to power and the potential risk to life and property. Amber means you need to be prepared to change your plans and protect you, your family and community from the impacts of the severe weather based on the forecast from the Met Office.
- Red Extreme weather is expected. Red means you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the weather. Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely. You must avoid dangerous areas and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities.