Police have warned drivers of treacherous conditions on roads across Scotland after the Met Office upgraded a winter weather warning for the weekend.
The forecaster has issued a more severe “amber” ice alert for much of Scotland, including Tayside and Fife, which is expected to coincide with ” heavy freezing rain”. It is effective from 10am on Saturday until 6am on Sunday.
Temperatures are predicted to drop to as low as -8C in parts of Scotland this weekend, with up to 8in of snow possible on high ground and about 2in possible even to lower levels.
It comes after the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for snow and ice covering almost all of Tayside and Fife, effective from Saturday at noon until Sunday at 10am.
Wintry conditions are expected to arrive in Tayside and Fife from Saturday afternoon.
The Met Office hasn’t ruled out snow arriving in the likes of Perth and Dundee, but said showers could fall as rain at lower level instead.
The Met Office amber ice warning states: “Heavy freezing rain is expected to develop during Saturday. This will result in the rapid formation of widespread ice on roads, pavements, trees and other structures.
“Freezing rain is rare in the United Kingdom but when it does occur the impacts can be very severe. This is due to the fact that it can form very quickly, it can be difficult to see and is incredibly slippery.
“Some sleet and snow is possible over the very highest ground and the freezing rain may also be followed by a spell of sleet and snow as the precipitation clears from the west.
“The freezing rain and sleet and snow will be accompanied by strong southeasterly winds which will pose an additional hazard to travel, in particular over high ground.”
And on Friday afternoon, the police and the Scottish Government warned motorists of treacherous road conditions as the winter weather moves into Scotland.
The predicted “freezing rain” may cause ice to form quickly on roads and pavements – causing difficult conditions for drivers and pedestrians.
Transport Scotland said roads could be hit by “deep snow” and that buses, trains and planes may be called off due to the weather.
Deputy head of road policing for Police Scotland, Superintendent Louise Blakelock said: “Following an amber and yellow weather warning issued this afternoon by the Met Office, there is a high risk of disruption to road journeys in all areas of mainland Scotland.
“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.
“Drivers of goods vehicles and buses should drive with extreme caution and be aware that you may be requested to park at a suitable position by the police.
“Winter driving is a question of common sense and all drivers should ask themselves if they really need to travel when conditions are poor.
“No-one should ever place themselves at risk on the road and it may be worth making alternative arrangements such as delaying travel until conditions improve or using public transport.
“If you are travelling on the roads you should ensure you and your vehicle are adequately prepared for the conditions, making sure you have sufficient fuel and supplies such as warm clothing, food and water in the event you are delayed for several hours.
“Charge your mobile phone and plan your route as well as alternative routes.”
Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “This is the first significant weather warning of the Christmas period, and we are likely to see dangerous travelling conditions.
“People should heed the warnings of the potential for freezing rain and ice in particular.
“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.”
Chief meteorologist at the Met Office Will Lang said: “Saturday’s weather brings a range of winter hazards, with heavy snow, blizzards and widespread ice from freezing rain expected for many parts of Scotland.
“In combination with strong winds, these hazards are likely to make journeys both on foot and in vehicles dangerous, so we are urging people to check the latest weather forecast and warnings and to take extra care when walking and driving.”