Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Warning over heavy snow forecast

Skiers at Nevis Range
The wintry weather has provided perfect skiing conditions

People in parts of southern and western Scotland have been warned to brace themselves for heavy snowfalls.

The Met Office said up to 5cm of snow was likely to fall in the Strathclyde area and Dumfries and Galloway between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

But the freezing conditions provided a welcome boost to Scotland's ski centres, with thousands of winter sports enthusiasts hitting the slopes.

Temperatures plunged to minus 12.6C in parts of the Highlands overnight.

Across much of the rest of the country it hovered at about minus 6C.

The Met Office said as much as 10cm of snow could accumulate on higher ground in south and west Scotland on Sunday and Monday.

It also warned of icy roads throughout Scotland due to the combination of wet or snow covered surfaces combined with a hard frost.

'Creaky snow'

The icy conditions made driving difficult in some areas on Sunday and in Grampian the B974 Banchory to Fettercairn road and the B976 Crathie to Gairnsheil roads were closed due to ice and snow, while some roads in the Highlands were also closed.

Skiers flocked to the slopes to make the most of the weather.

At Glenshee Ski Centre the car park was full by 1000 GMT, with 1,500 cars parked.

However, some people were reporting that their cars were getting stuck in the snow and Grampian Police was forced to close the snow gates on the incoming roads in an attempt to persuade new arrivals to go elsewhere.

Kate Hunter, Ski Patrol Manager, said: "It's bright and clear with sunny skies and very little wind.

"The snow is good with a good cover of nice, creaky snow."

The centre's website said that conditions were "nearly perfect".

At Nevis Range ski centre near Fort William there were about 800 people already on the slopes by 1030 GMT.

A spokeswoman for the resort said: "It is a good day and there are lots of people skiing.

"There are nice groomed pistes and the weather is clear, dry and bright with good visibility. It's just great skiing."

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