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First snow of 2019 brings chaos to north-east homes, schools and roads

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The first snowfall of the year brought with it power outages, school closures, a string of accidents and widespread transport delays.

The north and north-east of the country experienced the worst of Scotland’s winter weather, with 4cm of snowfall recorded in Aberdeenshire yesterday morning.

Throughout the day, drivers repeatedly found themselves in difficulty due to icy conditions and by midday dozens of car crashes had been reported.

Most were minor, but one woman was taken to hospital after an unoccupied car slid into her on Quarry Road in the Aberdeen suburb of Cults.

It is believed the woman was de-icing her own car when she was struck. The extent of her injuries are not known.

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Though the dusting of snow did not give the appearance it would bring chaos, homes in Stonehaven and Catterline also forced to deal with a loss of power for a number of hours.

SSEN said it had fixed overnight and early morning outages by noon and apologised for the loss of supply.

A further 23 properties in Gallaton, Crawton Bay and other areas near Stonehaven were then affected for two hours in the afternoon, with engineers rushing back to the AB39  postcode.

The sudden cold snap also led to disruption and transport problems at several schools though in Aberdeen only Dyce School was affected an it did open for business, albeit 30 minutes later than usual.

In Aberdeenshire, however, many school buses did not run due to icy conditions, with Banchory Academy, Bervie School and Westhill Academy among the schools to suffer.

Fyvie School was closed to all but pupils who lived in the village itself due to a lack of transport access.

And the Gordon Schools were closed due to the latest in a series of heating failures. A prelim exam due to take place had to be rescheduled.

Meldrum Academy and Portlethen Academy also rescheduled exams.

In addition, pupils at Stuartfield Primary School were sent home in the afternoon after its heating system failing.

On the roads, the morning brought one accident after another.

A car overturned at the Parkhill roundabout on the AWPR, there was a three-vehicle crash in Aberdeen’s Hilton area, while another city road was blocked after a car smashed into a tree on Ashgrove West.

A car that got into difficulty at the junction of Braefoot Road and Ashgrove Road West, Aberdeen.

There were also delays on Western Road in Hilton, as a result of cars skidding down the steep street.

One driver said: “I just had to get pushed up by two men who were in the car behind me. My wheels kept skidding.

“I was planning on going up the entirety of Western Road, but I just had to leave the car and walk into work instead.”

In Aberdeenshire, several roads were closed including the A947 between Turriff and Oldmeldrum and the A920 at Huntly.

Around Huntly, a number of HGVs had to be rescued after becoming stuck fast on icy roads.

The snow gates were closed on the A939 Cockbridge to Tomintoul route until 1pm.

There were 24 gritters sent out by BEAR Scotland on Wednesday night, and they remained hard at work throughout Thursday, though many members of the public took to social media to say that they, and local councils, had been unprepared for the forecasted snow.

Such claims were dismissed by Aberdeen City Council’s transport spokesman, Councillor Ross Grant, who said the authority had been preparing for adverse weather for several months and had a detailed plan in place.

“This year, with a budget of £1.73 million, we had a stockpile of 11,726 tonnes of salt, about 180 staff, community salt bags in strategic locations around the city, about 50 road and pavement gritters, and detailed route planning and weather forecast monitoring to react quickly when conditions change,” he said.

“We have about 10,500 tonnes of salt stockpiled at the moment.

“Half of the city’s roads – the main roads – are treated before 7.30am, and new big community salt bins are just some of the ways Aberdeen City Council is prioritising this year’s winter maintenance.

“In preparation for the forecast overnight snow, we had gritters out on all our main roads twice on Wednesday night, again at 4.45am, and throughout Thursday and will be out again very early this morning.

“With 560 miles of roads – the distance between Aberdeen and London – and 1,242 miles of pavements – the distance from here to Rome – to cover, unfortunately we cannot be everywhere at the same time.”

Those travelling by bus, train and plane did not escape delays.

Flights between Aberdeen and Sumburgh, Scatsta and Stravanger were all delayed yesterday morning.

As the day progressed, several flights travelling south to Manchester, London and Norwich were also airbourne later than scheduled.

On the ground, rail users faced delays that were not even down to the snow, but rather a continuation of the crew shortages that have blighted ScotRail services.

Those running between Aberdeen and Edinburgh terminated at Dundee, without calling at a number of stations on the route, while two trains between Edinburgh and Aberdeen were cancelled and bus replacements put on.

In addition, the 5.41pm Glasgow Queen Street to Aberdeen service terminated at Dundee due to a shortage of train crew.

The snow is expected to dissipate as the week progresses, but cold temperatures are likely to remain.

A Bear Scotland spokesman said: “Our highly experienced winter teams work round the clock to keep trunk roads in the north east of Scotland clear of ice and snow and this most recent spell of cold weather was no exception.

“Since 2pm on Wednesday, a total of 24 gritters across the north-east trunk road network were out carrying out salt treatments or monitoring conditions – with double salt treatments carried out on every route.

“Last night we had 24 gritters out in the north-east again with another round of double treatments planned.

“We strongly advise road users to drive to conditions, slow down and ensure they leave plenty of extra time to complete their journey.”

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