Extreme weather sees flights and hospital operations cancelled

Heavy snow has seen surgical operations called off, bus services and flights suspended as well as Scottish Parliament committees cancelled while part of the country is under the highest-level weather warning.

People have been told to avoid travelling after the red alert was issued for heavy snow across affected regions.

The Met Office warning covered most of the country including central Scotland, Tayside and Fife, south west Scotland, the Lothians and Borders and Strathclyde areas.

It means extreme conditions are expected in those areas between 3pm on Wednesday and 10am on Thursday.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: "This is the first red warning that has been issued for snow under the current system which means that conditions in affected areas will be extremely treacherous.

"I would urge people to follow police advice and avoid travel in those areas affected by the red and amber warnings.

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"We recognise it will have an impact on people travelling to and from work over the next 24 hours and so I would encourage employers to be as flexible as possible with their staff.

"If you need to travel, your journey is likely to be disrupted and in many instances there may be cancellations, there is the possibility you could be stranded and this could interfere with emergency services and those clearing the roads.

"I would urge parents to continue to check school notices with their local authorities before making any decisions on travel."

NHS Greaters Glasgow and Clyde announced any non-essential operations and outpatient appointments for Thursday would be rearranged.

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First Glasgow halted its services during 3pm due to the snow, while Stagecoach called off its operations in Fife for the remainder of Wednesday.

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments as well as the Public Petitions committees at the Scottish Parliament were also cancelled.

It is the first red alert for snow in Scotland since a new warning system came into place in 2011.

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The definition of a red warning is "you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the weather" and it cautions that widespread damage, disruption and risk to life is likely.

The warnings come as hundreds of schools across Scotland were closed and there was severe disruption on the road and rail network as a result of heavy snow in large parts of Scotland on Wednesday.

A number of councils, including Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh, West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Falkirk, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and Clackmannanshire have already announced that their schools will be closed on Thursday.

In addition to schools, some universities and nurseries have also been forced to close.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Virgin Trains said the route between Carlisle and Scotland is closed, with no trains or replacement buses running.

Other rail routes between England and Scotland are also "severely disrupted".

ScotRail tweeted: "There will be no train services in the red weather warning area tonight, or first thing tomorrow morning."

The weather also affected flights, with Glasgow Airport suspending all operations until later on Thursday.

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The SPFL announced that Wednesday night's games in the Ladbrokes Premiership - Celtic v Dundee, Hibernian v Hamilton Academical, Motherwell v Aberdeen - have been postponed.

Of the red warning, the Met Office stated: "Roads will become blocked by deep snow, with many stranded vehicles and passengers. Long delays and cancellations on bus, rail and air travel are expected. Some communities could become cut off for several days. Long interruptions to power supplies and other services."

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Forecasters warned that lying snow could reach 20-30cm and possibly 40cm in a few places by mid morning on Thursday.

In addition to the red warning areas, lesser Met Office warnings for snow are covering many other parts of Scotland.

This is the first red alert for snow in Scotland under the new warning system. There have been red warnings for wind and rain north of the border before, the Met Office confirmed.

This is 1st red alert for snow in Scotland under new warning system, started in 2011. It is not the first ever red warning for snow in the UK - there was one in 2013 in Wales. There have been red warnings for other weather in Scotland before. This is UK's 9th red alert since 2011

-- Hilary Duncanson (@HDuncansonPA) February 28, 2018

There has only been one other red snow warning before in the UK, for south Wales in 2013.

This is only the ninth red warning issued in the UK since 2011 for any kind of weather.

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