Flood warnings have been issued after blizzards left cars buried beneath snow on a major road during a weekend of severe winter weather.
A combination of gale-force winds and heavy snowfall resulted in huge snow drifts blocking off roads all across the north-east, Moray and the Highlands – leaving some resembling “toboggan runs”.
Vehicles on the A98 Fraserburgh to Fochabers route were almost completely submerged near Buckie, where fierce wind blew mud and snow across from nearby fields near the junction with the B9016 Keith to Portgordon road.
Snow ploughs were brought in to try and clear the area and free the trapped vehicles, but they were unable to make much difference and it remained shut overnight between Saturday and Sunday.
Throughout the weekend, snow drifts caused severe travel disruption across both major and smaller roads.
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The A96 Aberdeen to Inverness road was shut overnight on Saturday between Inverurie and Huntly, leaving many drivers stuck in Huntly until the road was reopened in the morning.
On Friday evening, two passengers were taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with minor injuries after a Megabus ended up on its side after coming off the A90 Aberdeen to Dundee road at Laurencekirk.
Another bus crashed on the A90 the following morning at the slip road to Newburgh.
Drifting snow caused a slew of road closures in the Highlands as well.
In Sutherland the A836 from Lairg to Tongue was shut on Sunday, and high snow drifts also closed the A897 Helmsdale to Melvich route.
All lanes on the Kessock Bridge outside Inverness were restricted in both directions during the worst of the weather, and certain Northlink Ferries trips between Aberdeen, Orkney and Shetland were called off over the weekend.
Bus and rail journeys also faced disruption, including the cancellation of rail replacement buses between Stonehaven and Arbroath.
Farmers help make roads passable
Andrew Connon, of North Quilquox Farm at Ythanbank in Aberdeenshire and national vice-president of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland, was out over the weekend to help clear local roads.
Mr Connon paid tribute to the farmers all across Scotland who have been helping local councils and police teams to make roads passable.
He said: “There’s been massive drifts, and a lot of ferocious snow to deal with.
“My neighbour dug out another neighbour so she could get out to get her vaccine this week, there’s been a lot of good deeds being done by farmers.
“This has been the worst snow round about here we’ve had in a few years now, a lot of roads have been like toboggan runs with massive banks of snow on either side.
“Farmers across Scotland always go the extra mile to help their local communities, and I think those communities appreciate us too.”
Sarah MacRory, 34, and her husband Scott, 33, are among many who have thanked local farmers for their help.
The pair got stuck on a track near their home in Drumlithie on the outskirts of Stonehaven on Saturday.
Passing farmer, Eddie Johnstone, used his tractor to clear the snow and dug the stranded couple’s car out.
Mrs MacRory said: “We just slid into this huge pile of snow and we were stuck. I couldn’t even get the car door open.
“The poor guy was just in a farmer’s boiler suit and he was out digging us out with a spade and then he hooked us up and pulled us down.”
The snow is expected to cause more problems as it thaws in the coming days.
Flood alerts issued
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has issued orange flood alerts for much of mainland Scotland, the Western Isles and Orkney, with a red flood warning for the Churchill Barriers causeways in Orkney.
The orange alerts, which will last until Wednesday, have been issued as Sepa expects strong winds and milder air to cause problems for those living close to water.
A statement from Sepa said: “Lying snow is expected to start melting at most levels, and although no significant rainfall is expected, there is the potential for flooding from small watercourses and rivers.”