Page last updated at 19:54 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Schools and travel chaos in snow

Snow plough in heavy snow on Banff to Keith road [Pic: Grant Steele]
Snow ploughs faced serious problems coping with the elements

Almost 300 schools were forced to close and many roads are blocked after heavy snow hit northern Scotland.

More than 270 primaries and secondaries were shut in Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Moray and Highland, and trains and flights were also affected.

Several roads had to be closed, with cars and lorries getting stuck.

The Met Office later warned of widespread icy roads for much of Scotland as temperatures fell on Thursday night.

Large snowman
An enormous snowman was built near Huntly

Grampian Police earlier warned drivers they should only venture out on essential journeys, with a severe weather warning being issued for the area.

There were 145 schools closed in Aberdeenshire, about 60 in the Highlands, about 40 in Moray and 26 in Aberdeen. Twelve Borders schools were also closed.

No trains were running between Elgin and Aberdeen, and flights were affected in Aberdeen, Inverness and Orkney.

Grampian Police said the emergency services had been able to access the length of the A96 between Huntly and Keith and the road was passable with care.

Vehicles were escorted through as part of a convoy.

Other roads in the area were being checked for motorists who may have been trapped by the weather.

The convoy system was also put in place to help traffic move along the A9 between Inverness and Aviemore after heavy snow closed the route.

Many major roads were closed and hundreds of schools shut

Many other parts of the force's area, particularly Caithness, were also severely affected by snow.

Amid the disruption, police said they had reports of motorists removing road closed signs on routes affected by the bad weather.

Sgt Kevin Marshall, of Northern Constabulary, said warning signs were placed on roads for good reason.

He said: "If a road is closed it is that - it's closed. We have had reports that some signage has been removed from the roads by motorists. I would urge that they don't do this."

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