WINTER returned with a vengeance to Inverurie last Wednesday night, as blizzards engulfed the Garioch making roads impassable, and closing schools and businesses for the second time in a month.
The snow, which comes after a brief mild spell, began falling on Wednesday night, leaving the area under a thick blanket by the morning.
Subsequent snowfall has compounded the problem, and a bank of freezing fog which descended on Inverurie on Tuesday saw temperatures drop to -15C. As of Wednesday morning, the temperature remains at -10C.
Across Aberdeenshire road conditions have rapidly become hazardous. One fatal car crash outside Huntly on December 16 claimed the life of 63-year old Andrewina Tait of Inverness, and Grampian Police are urging motorists to avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.
Spokeswoman for the Met Office Helen Chivers told the Herald:
“The cold weather first arrived at the end of November as northeasterly winds blew Artic air across the UK, bringing heavy snow to the north and east of the UK. Another blast of freezing winds from the Arctic arrived on Thursday last week, and this freezing weather has stayed with us,
The weather will remain very cold through the rest of the week, but we can expect a respite from fresh snowfall.
There will be some severe frosts and freezing fog at night, temperatures falling to between minus 15 and minus 20 Celsius.
The days will be dry with sunny spells so, while there will still be snow lying on Christmas Day, the day itself is expected to be dry and fine, with sunshine in northeast Scotland.
Aberdeenshire Council said that the utmost was being done to keep roads and schools open.
A spokesman said: “Aberdeenshire Council road crews are once again out in force continuing a road treatment programme across the Aberdeenshire network. Work is continuing to keep roads across the north-east open and gritted as the cold weather continues across the country.
“A total of 46 gritters with blades, 10 snowploughs, 34 footpath gritters, 32 farmer’s snowploughs and 38 diggers - a total manpower of 208 - have been in operation from 3.30pm yesterday afternoon and this morning from 5.30am.”
A total of 158 Aberdeenshire schools and nurseries were fully or partially closed on Tuesday morning, with a number of Deeside roads remaining closed completely.
As well as the disruption to the roads, other transport routes have been badly affected, including rail and air routes, which have impacted on travellers wanting to spend Christmas with their families.
One stranded air passenger, 26-year old Marlene Quintal, who is trying to go back to her native Portugal for Christmas, told the Herald:
“I have had to re-book my flight twice so far, spending £800 in the process.
“If your flight is cancelled, you dont onto one of the following flights because everything is full, and you dont know if you’ll get your money back.
“I love the snow, but I feel frustrated with the airline companies and airports.
“It’s a time when people are desperate to go home and meet with their families, and they don’t give you much support or solutions - numbers to phone which no-one ever answers, trying online which doesn’t work, or desperately waiting at the desk at the airport, getting nowhere.”