Hope of weather respite as Army called in to clear snow

Sign says 'No diesel' at petrol station in Peebles, Scotland Bad weather has disrupted the supply of fuel to many petrol stations

Forecasters have predicted a brief respite from the freezing weather, as the Army was called in to clear snow and ice in Edinburgh.

Temperatures will reach 3C-5C (37F-41F) across many parts of the UK on Thursday afternoon and could be as high as 8C (46F) on Friday.

But the Met Office still has warnings in place for icy roads in many areas.

And a third of independent Scottish garages had to close their pumps after they were unable to receive fuel.

Off-road vehicles

The Army started working in Edinburgh on Wednesday night following a request for assistance from the city council.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland were out on the streets within hours of approval being given by the Ministry of Defence.

It is understood that a team of five soldiers was deployed to a hospital to clear access to a boiler house for a delivery of fuel.

Another team shifted snow and ice at a residential home to allow the delivery of medicine and food.

WEATHER AND TRAVEL INFO

They will be joined on Thursday morning by more troops, along with members of the Royal Navy and RAF.

The Army had already provided 10 off-road vehicles and drivers for the Scottish Ambulance Service, responding to 100 urgent call-outs within 48 hours.

Temperatures plummeted to as low as -15C (5F) to -18C (0F) overnight, but forecasters are predicting that the mercury will rise over the next few days before another cold spell kicks in.

BBC weather forecaster Daniel Corbett said there would be some problems with icy roads for the morning.

But he said there would be a "subtle change" as cold Arctic air was replaced by warmer conditions from the Atlantic.

'Exceptional circumstances'

Roads in Scotland have been getting back to normal. The M8, which links Edinburgh and Glasgow, reopened after two days on Wednesday afternoon.

It was among a number of major routes in the busy central belt hit by snow, which forced hundreds of people to abandon their cars.

But Brian Madderson, chairman of RMI Petrol, which represents 6,000 independent forecourts in the UK, said 300 out of 900 were shut - not due to a petrol shortage, but because bad weather had disrupted the supply chain.

Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson told MSPs on Wednesday that he accepted responsibility for the chaos.

However, he shrugged off opposition calls for his resignation by saying the government was faced with "exceptional circumstances".

In other developments:

  • East Coast rail services remain suspended north and west of Edinburgh, with no trains to and from Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow
  • Elsewhere on the East Coast, between London and Edinburgh, a full timetable is scheduled to run on Thursday
  • Flights are disrupted to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. Travellers are advised to check travelling times with airlines
  • All schools are expected to be closed on Thursday in Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire. Some schools in other counties are also shut.
  • Hundreds are closed in Northern Ireland, along with dozens in the north of England
  • Snow and frost have forced the abandonment of Friday and Saturday's racing at Doncaster

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said councils had to make choices about which routes to grit, and called on people to help themselves and their neighbours by clearing icy side roads.

AROUND THE UK

He said the government had recently put together a "common sense" code of practice which, if followed, should protect the public from legal action as a result of attempting to clear snow.

However, he said there was no need in England for the Army to be called in because councils were still able to call contractors if they needed help clearing roads.

The AA said it had responded to more than 230,000 incidents since the first widespread snow on 24 November - a 93% increase on the same period last year.

The RAC said it had received 50% more call-outs than normal.

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UK forecast for 21/09/2017

Map Key

  • land colour Land
  • cloud colour Cloud
  • Lakes, Rivers & Sea colour Lakes, Rivers & Sea

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Frost

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Temperature (°C)

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