Region on red alert as Beast from East bites

Council workmen try to clear the deep snow from the roads in Lauder
Council workmen try to clear the deep snow from the roads in Lauder

Parts of the Borders have been put on red alert as the snowstorm dubbed the Beast from the East continues to cause widespread disruption on the region’s roads.

The Met Office has issued a red warning, its highest category of alert, for the north east of the Borders, and an amber warning is in force for most of the rest of the region.

The red warning, active from 3pm yesterday until at least 10am today, March 1, is Scotland’s first ever for snow.

The amber warning is in place until at least 6pm today.

All schools in the Borders will be closed for the second day running today, and a decision is expected today on whether they will reopen tomorrow.

Many roads in the region have been rendered impassable by the region’s third widespread snowfall of 2018, including the A697 between Carfraemill and Greenlaw and the A68 at Jedburgh.

“Between 5cm and 10cm of snow is anticipated widely during Thursday, with up to 25cm possible in places,” said a Scottish Borders Council spokesperson. “By Thursday evening, this could accumulate to up to 40cm. Due to the strong winds blizzards are likely, particularly over higher ground, as well as drifting snow.”

Chief Inspector Andy McLean, Police Scotland’s area commander for the Borders, added: “The Met Office has highlighted to us that there will be a significant impact on travel and communities where the heaviest snow falls over the coming days.

“I would reiterate the advice that people should only travel if absolutely essential and should make sure that they are fully prepared for the conditions they may face, including having sufficient fuel and supplies such as warm clothing, food and water.”

Scottish Government transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “This is the first red warning that has been issued for snow under the current system, which means that conditions in affected areas will be extremely treacherous.

“I would urge people to follow police advice and avoid travel in those areas affected by the red and amber warnings.

“We recognise it will have an impact on people travelling to and from work, so I would encourage employers to be as flexible as possible with their staff.

“If you need to travel, your journey is likely to be disrupted, and in many instances, there may be cancellations.

“There is the possibility you could be stranded, and this could interfere with emergency services and those clearing the roads.

“I would urge parents to continue to check school notices with their local authorities before making any decisions on travel.

“In these severe conditions, I would also encourage people where possible to check in with elderly neighbours or anyone who may be particularly vulnerable.

“Winter maintenance fleets are working 24/7 to treat the trunk road network and will be standing ready to assist motorists if required. We have more gritters available this year than ever before.

“To access the most up to date travel information, you can use the Traffic Scotland mobile website - my.trafficscotland.org - or the @trafficscotland twitter page. If you’re planning to travel by rail, ferry or air, please check with your operator ahead of time. It’s inevitable the weather conditions will also impact on other modes of transport.”

Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, head of Police Scotland’s road policing staff, added: “We can’t stress enough that all travel should be avoided unless it’s essential, being absolutely necessary and extremely important.

“Employers and public services need to carefully consider how that criteria meets their urgent business needs.”

All outpatient appointments and non-urgent elective procedures scheduled for today at the Borders General Hospital at Melrose have been postponed.

Outpatient clinics at community hospitals have also been postponed.

All postponed appointments will be rearranged as soon as possible.