- More than 200 schools to remain closed for a fourth day as plunging temperatures and snow showers to continue
- Yellow warning for snow and ice across much of Scotland to last the whole day
- More severe amber warning for snow in place for northern parts of the country
- Scots experience another night of freezing temperatures after parts of the Highlands record -13.6C overnight
- ScotRail cancels a number of services while several roads remain closed
- Yellow warning for snow and ice across Scotland issued for Friday
More than 200 schools will be forced to shut for the fourth day in a row as Scotland continues to be hit with heavy snow and plunging temperatures.
The mercury went to as low as -13C in some parts of the country overnight as the cold snap is set to go on for days.
An amber warning for snow will be in place until 6pm on Thursday in Orkney, Shetland and the northern Highlands with the potential of up to 20cm more snowfall.
Meanwhile, most of the Western Isles, Highlands and north east will fall under a yellow alert for snow and ice.
All schools in Shetland and Orkney are closed on Thursday amid the wintry conditions.
Around 180 schools in the Highlands will be shut.
In Aberdeenshire around 130 schools were shut while others had delayed openings.
In Moray nine schools and nurseries were closed due to the weather while others had late or staggered starts.
Police Scotland has warned of a high risk of disruption in areas falling under a weather warning.
Traffic Scotland confirmed that the A9 between Helmsdale and Berridale has been closed due to the wintry conditions.
Gritters and tractors have been working to clear the road since 11.45am.
The biggest snow depths recorded on Thursday morning were Altnaharra at 34cm, Wick at 27cm, Lerwick at 20cm and Stornoway at 13cm.
Tulloch Bridge recorded the lowest temperature across Scotland overnight at -13.6C, Dalwhinnie at -12.3C, Drumnadrochit at -11.7C and Achnagart at -10.9C.
The UK had its coldest night of the winter so far on Tuesday when Dalwhinnie in the Highlands experienced a temperature of -14C.
Although the temperature did not reach the forecast lows of minus 18C overnight, the cold weather is expected to linger over the coming days.
STV weather presenter Philip Petrie said: “It was expected that last night could have been our coldest January night since 2010 but that wasn’t the case with temperatures dropping to only -13.6c.
“I say only but this is still extremely cold and even some of the major towns and cities got well below freezing with Edinburgh dropping to -6.1c and Glasgow recording -5.2c.
“So another frosty start to the day for Thursday, with some icy stretches possible where we have seen the occasional snow shower the past few days.
“A yellow warning for snow and ice is still in force across the Northern Isles, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus, the Highlands, the Hebrides stretching down to parts of Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Argyll & Bute, with a more severe amber warning for snow covering the Northern Isles and parts of the north-west Highlands.
“The snow showers will continue over the next 24 hours before our wind direction changes more to a westerly, and therefore we will be dragging in milder air. So the snow showers on Friday will increasingly turn to rain, before wet and windy conditions move in over the weekend, but more on that to come.”
The weather has prompted days of travel disruption that will continue into Thursday.
ScotRail said Dundee to Arbroath, Inverness to Elgin and Montrose to Inverurie services will not run on Thursday.
The train operator said passengers can also expect 30-minute delays to services between Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Traffic Scotland said snow gates will be closed on the A93 Braemar to Spittal of Glenshee, the A939 Cockbridge to Tomintoul and the B974 Banchory to Fettercairn.
CalMac said a number of ferry services have been cancelled or delayed.
Minister for transport for Scotland Fiona Hyslop said: “We know from recent severe weather events that it’s important to plan ahead if you are looking to travel. With the Met Office issuing an updated amber warning for snow in the North Highlands and Northern Isles, travel planning becomes vital.
“Police Scotland is warning of a high risk of disruption for the parts of the country covered by the amber warning, but yellow warnings can also be impactful and cause delays. Please allow extra time for your journey and consider if it can be delayed until conditions have improved.”
She added: “Winter resilience plans have been in full effect with teams across Scotland working overnight to grit the trunk road network for essential journeys. Local roads may also be impacted, so please make sure your route is available, follow the travel advice from Police Scotland and drive to the conditions.”
Another frosty night is forecast into Friday, and while it will be breezier with more cloud in places, lows of minus 10C will again be likely in some areas.
The Met Office has issued another warning for snow and ice for Friday which will be in place from midnight to 3pm.
The warning will cover The Highlands, Perth, Clackmannanshire, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Argyll and Bute, as well as, Orkney and Shetland.
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