Over 9,000 children were sent home from school yesterday as 95 schools and nurseries across the Highlands were closed after snow and ice swept across the region.
There was disruption to ferries and roads across the north as police and Transport Scotland urged motorists to drive with caution, with the weather expected to persist all week.
Inverness Airport was also closed until just before midday due to the snow. Flights to Stornoway and Kirkwall were cancelled and there were some delays to a number of the morning’s arrivals and departures.
The Met Office has issued a yellow “be aware” warning for snow and ice across the north until the end of Friday. Aberdeen-based forecaster, Stuart Brooks, said there were recordings of “thundersnow” – snow and lightening – in Durness, south-west Skye, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Mull yesterday.
He added: “I would say there is slightly more chance of power cuts on Wednesday (today) and Thursday as conditions are favourable for lightening.
“I would expect more snow to fall inland and further north over the next few days. There will be a sharp dip in temperature on Friday and it could easily get down to double figures on Saturday. I would expect -12C or lower in Aviemore.”
Yesterday in the Highlands, 14 secondary schools, 53 primaries, 26 nurseries and two special schools were closed.
Inverness Royal Academy was shut in the afternoon as icy roads and pavements posed a risk, and bosses had to postpone scheduled Higher and Nat 5 PE prelim exams.
Motorists posted on social media about poor road conditions on the A9 Inverness-Thurso road, saying it was especially bad in the Loth area in Sutherland and that traffic was stuck in Brora at one point in the morning.
The A9 Inverness-Perth road was also closed at Dalwhinnie for about two hours after a lorry jack-knifed on the carriageway.
A police spokesman said officers attended a number of incidents on the roads across the Highlands yesterday.
The spokesman urged drivers to check the forecast and make sure their vehicle is ready for the snow and ice and advised driving at slow speed and accelerating and braking gently.
A Bear Scotland spokeswoman said that, last night, 45 gritters were out across trunk roads in their North West unit and that, since Monday, teams have spread more than 800 tonnes of salt on the main north roads.
Due to the risk of ice and snow and freezing temperatures all evening, bus services to and from Stornoway were cancelled after 7pm.
There were also several social media reports of hazardous driving conditions on roads in Inverness.
One woman, Elaine France, said she was in a friend’s car which came off the road and, as they walked home to call for recovery, saw a bus skid across the junction between Caledonian Road and Dochfour Drive.
A Stagecoach North Scotland spokeswoman said bus services in the city were subject to delays due to the road conditions and that the service 28A in Kiltarlity was suspended.
A Highland Council spokeswoman said their Community Services deployed all of its available resources to tackle the weather conditions affecting pavements and roads across the region.
She added that the council’s 105-strong gritter fleet, 42 footpath tractors and 200 staff providing winter maintenance services have been working “flat out” across the region.