Page last updated at 19:47 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010

Cold maintains grip on Scotland

Boat on Loch Harport near Carbost/Pic:Peter de Villiers
A boat at Loch Harport near the village of Carbost on Skye/Pic: Peter de Villiers

Forecasters have said temperatures in Scotland will remain very low over the weekend, with little let up until next week and more snow likely.

Overnight temperatures into Saturday were higher than the previous night, with a low of -14.9C recorded at Dalwhinnie in the Highlands.

However, fresh snow fell on several areas of the country, and forecasters have warned more snow is on the way.

Ten Scottish Cup fixtures were postponed due to the icy conditions.

The temperature in Strathallan, near Perth, was -13.9C on Friday night, while in Glasgow it reached as low as -11C. Edinburgh was slightly warmer, with the temperature in the capital dropping to -9C.

Temperatures had plummeted even further the previous night, with residents of Altnaharra in Sutherland shivering in temperatures as low as -22.3C, which was almost as cold as the -22.9C recorded in the South Pole.

For those who are due to sit prelims in the coming weeks, there is flexibility around when these exams take place
Mike Russell
Education Secretary

The Met Office said there would be wintry showers across the country on Saturday, although these were not expected to be heavy.

The majority of areas would have an otherwise bright and sunny day, although temperatures will generally remain below freezing, and there is a risk of some patches of freezing fog.

Conditions are expected to be similar over the next few days, although temperatures will rise slightly and frosts will become less severe by Tuesday.

However, Tuesday is also likely to see further snow, with the worst of it likely to fall in the east of Scotland, the Highlands and the Southern Uplands.

ScotRail has been forced to make timetable changes due to the severe weather, with the busy Edinburgh to Glasgow line just one of the routes that is now on a reduced timetable.

The line has now reopened between Aberdeen and Inverurie and between Elgin and Inverness, but is still closed between Inverness and Elgin.

Elsewhere, as many as 60 people took part in a curling game under floodlights on the Lake of Menteith on Friday night, and two ice hockey teams are expected to play on the frozen lake over the weekend.

Clearing heavy snow in Corvichen
Temperatures will remain low, with further snow possible

It had been hoped that a Grand Match - also known as a Bonspiel - would be able to be played there for the first time since 1979 thanks to the longest cold snap in decades, but the curling competition had to be cancelled because emergency services said it was not possible to address all the health and safety issues in the time available.

Meanwhile, First Minister Alex Salmond has said he would "vigorously defend" Scotland's interests to maintain salt supplies.

About 7,000 tonnes of salt were used in the 24 hours to Friday night.

Mr Salmond's comments came as Finance Secretary John Swinney took part in the first UK-wide civil contingencies committee meeting.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "Careful husbandry of salt supplies has protected our position through this long and protracted period of winter weather.

"We are drawing on stocks which are now closer to 40,000 tonnes.

"Now the UK government has activated the Salt Cell, we are dependent on that system for getting equitable supplies appropriate for the challenges we face in Scotland."

Temperatures plunged well below freezing across the country

Hundreds of schools were closed by the weather last week, with decisions on whether or not they are likely to reopen expected to be made by Sunday afternoon.

Parents were urged to check with their local authority website for the latest information.

School children have been reassured about exams that may be disrupted by the weather.

Education Secretary Mike Russell said: "There are no SQA national exams due to take place until April and many pupils have taken their prelims before the Christmas break.

"For those who are due to sit prelims in the coming weeks, there is flexibility around when these exams take place."

ScotRail announced that a reduced timetable would operate on the Edinburgh-Glasgow Queen Street line and on selected routes in and out of Glasgow Central because of the severe weather conditions.

Scottish Water said it had mobilised an army of staff and additional resources to minimise the impact of the severe weather on their customers after it experienced 305 burst pipes across the country last week, more than four times the normal rate.

Farmers' leader Tom Johnston of NFU Scotland said hundreds of agricultural buildings had collapsed under the weight of snow across the north and north-east of Scotland.

He estimated the cost of the damage would run to millions of pounds.

Despite the travel, school and heating problems caused by the cold weather, it's a happy time for children.

Sledges and skis are once again being called into action over the weekend.

But where is the best sledging slope in Scotland?

Send us your pictures with one line telling us why your hill is just perfect.

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