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David Allison reports
"Drivers are urged to avoid unnecessary journeys"
 real 56k

Monday, 26 February, 2001, 17:39 GMT
Cold snaps at Scotland yet again
Airport scene
Some airports have been forced to shut down
Scotland has been hit by a fresh bout of severe winter weather, which has led to disruption across the country.

All 24 schools in the Western Isles and on Orkney have been shut and heavy snow has led to the closure of Inverness airport although the airports in Stornoway, Barra, Benbecula and Kirkwall have now reopened..

A handful of schools in Aberdeenshire and south west Scotland have also been unable to open and the situation was reported to be worsening in the Highlands.

Mountain rescuers
The weather is hampering a rescue effort
Conditions on many roads were described as treacherous and drivers have been urged to avoid making unnecessary journeys.

Up to 6in of snow fell overnight on the northern isles and bus services into Lerwick were also disrupted.

The weather has also hampered the search for a 30-year-old woman climber who was reported missing near Loch Lomond.

Norah Elwell-Sutton, from Glasgow was thought to have split from her companion around lunchtime on Sunday to climb a peak, telling him to contact the police if she had not returned by the time darkness fell.

Police said she is believed to be an experienced hill climber and is known to be well equipped.

Weather forecasters said the snow was set to continue throughout Monday and into Tuesday and they expected many roads and railways to be cut off.

'Pretty deep'

A spokeswoman for Orkney Islands Council said closures had affected the islands' 18 primary schools, four junior highs and two secondary schools. The islands' college was also closed.

She said: "The snow is lying pretty deep in the town and in the outlying areas which is making journeys into work and school hazardous.

"The schools are likely to remain closed for at least today and possibly tomorrow.

Lorry in snow
Road conditions are poor in most places
"We have been told there is more snow on the way."

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said a handful of its schools were closed as a result of the weather.

Gordon McKinstry, of the Met Office, said more heavy snowfalls could be expected.

He said: "Further significant snowfall will affect Scotland throughout the next 24 to 36 hours.

"Currently, worst affected areas are the north of Scotland, with 19cm reported at Kirkwall and 12cm of lying snow at Aberdeen Airport.

"Snow will continue to fall across Scotlnd tonight with 10-15cm predicted for Glasgow before easing around 0900GMT on Tuesday."

Mr McKinstry said the east of the country could expect maximum snowfalls of 20-25cm.

"It will turn windy with gales in places overnight and tomorrow with blizzard conditions developing and drifting of lying snow adding to the already treacherous conditions," he added.

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