Snow and ice are expected to create dangerous travelling conditions across large parts of Scotland this weekend.
Whether getting around by car, train, bus or on foot, people are being warned to be prepared for hazardous conditions.
The cause is a band of freezing rain forecast to hit most areas on Saturday, one of the busiest of the year as people head out for festive shopping and parties.
⚠️🌨️ Take extra care if you're travelling this weekend. We'll have teams out to keep our platforms gritted & cleared, but surfaces may still be slippery.
— ScotRail (@ScotRail) December 14, 2018
The Met Office has issued an amber warning for ice for the central belt, Borders, Dumfries and Galloway , southern parts of Tayside and Fife until Sunday morning.
An amber warning for snow is also in place across Stirlingshire, Perthshire, parts of Grampian and the southern Highlands.
Following a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room on Friday, Transport Minister Michael Matheson said delays and cancellations on public transport were possible, there could be interruptions to power supplies and telephone networks, and some rural communities may find themselves cut off.
The @MetOffice has issued an amber warning for heavy freezing rain this weekend with very dangerous travelling conditions likely. Freezing rain is rare in the UK but the impacts can be very severe – it can form very quickly, is difficult to see and is incredibly slippery. https://t.co/D0GJ5Bjp7T
— Ready Scotland (@ReadyScotland) December 14, 2018
Mr Matheson said: “I would encourage people in the affected areas to consider whether they need to make their journey.
“If they do, they should expect disruption. Drivers should plan their routes, leave plenty of time, follow Police Scotland travel advice and drive to the conditions.”
Superintendent Louise Blakelock, deputy head of road policing for Police Scotland, said: “Freezing rain is highly unusual and is expected to result in the rapid development of widespread ice, which will lead to dangerous travelling conditions.
“I appreciate that many people will be planning Christmas shopping trips this weekend and have festive social events planned with family and friends, however, if you do travel, you are likely to experience significant delays.
“Congestion caused by all vehicles may restrict the emergency services, recovery vehicles, gritters and snowploughs from providing essential assistance or from clearing roads.”
Health bosses in Glasgow have urged people to wear warm clothing and appropriate footwear if they are venturing out.
Hospitals experienced a surge of patients requiring X-rays and treatment after slips and falls following an overnight freeze on December 4.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of public health Dr Linda de Caestecker said: “Fashion footwear such as high heels isn’t appropriate when pavements and roads are icy – so be smart and wear shoes or boots with good grip … and if going to a stylish party or event take a pair of fashion shoes with you to wear when you arrive.”
She added: “Anyone going out to celebrate this weekend should also make sure they dress warmly and think about how much alcohol they are drinking.
“Even if you’re not venturing far, please be careful as you step out the front door as black ice can take us by surprise.”