By LOUISE THOMASON & ROSALIND GRIFFITHS
Shetland may have escaped the initial stages of the longest cold snap to hit Britain in a decade, but it struck with a vengeance this week causing major disruption to transport and closing schools.
The heaviest of the snowfall came in the early hours of yesterday morning when, according to the Lerwick Met Office, 20cm fell between 5am and 9am, making travel to work for those who could manage to get out in their vehicles a treacherous journey.
Until yesterday the only schools to have remained open from Wednesday were the Anderson High School, Scalloway Junior High, Bell’s Brae Primary, Sound Primary, Fair Isle and Whalsay, but they were all forced to close their doors to pupils yesteray morning. Shetland College and the Eric Gray Centre also remained shut.
As we went to press yesterday afternoon, Anderson High School head teacher Valerie Nicolson said that prelim exams that S5 and S6 pupils had been unable to sit because of the closure would be rescheduled to the end of the current exam diet.
She said: “Students and families should not be concerned and specific arrangements will be communicated at the start of next week.”
Travel was also affected across the isles. On Wednesday Sumburgh airport opened an hour and a half late due to having to clear snow, although yesterday the airport was running as normal, with all planes that had been at Sumburgh overnight leaving in the morning. Some delays were expected from incoming flights due to bad weather on the mainland.
Yesterday Scatsta airport also opened late, although by 10am it was running as normal. There were hold ups, however, as many passengers were snow bound and flights were delayed to wait on their arrival at the airport. At Tingwall airport all flights were cancelled.
Roads were badly affected and conditions were worsened by a lack of salt. Despite all ploughs and gritters being out and working around the clock, many roads were not passable. Main roads fared better, although the police advised travellers to be cautious.
A police spokesman said: “We’re advising essential travel only, the roads are passable but with care.”
However despite the amount of snow on the roads there were surprisingly few road traffic incidents, with no accidents reported.
The SIC announced on Monday it had run out of salt for the roads and had to get an emergency consignment sent up from Orkney.
SIC head of roads Ian Halcrow said that Streamline Shipping had “gone out of their way” to get 100 tonnes of salt from Orkney on Wednesday night. “We’re hoping to get more up with NorthLink tonight,” he said yesterday.
There were widespread delays and cancellations for bus services across the Mainland.
Yesterday nothing was going to or from Mossbank until 12.30pm when services resumed. The first service to the West Side was also at 12pm.
Sumburgh buses were less affected with the morning services coming in on time.
The town service buses experienced delays on the south route and the north route was cancelled with routes up the old North Road blocked.
A spokesman for Scottish and Southern Energy said there had been minimal disruption to power supplies but the situation was being closely monitored.
A bus with 10 people on board travelling from Walls to Lerwick went off the road at Weisdale just after 10.30am on Friday. Police and three fire appliances from Lerwick, Brae and Bixter went to the scene, but were not required.
Two people from the bus were taken to Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick for treatment to suspected minor injuries. The remaining eight people were taken on to Lerwick shortly after the collison. Police described the one vehicle collision as “minor”.
The bad weather at the weekend led to the cancellation of the Nesting and Girlsta Up-Helly-A’.
All schools in the North Isles and North Mainland were closed following fresh snowfalls on Monday.
By Tuesday the snow was still lying although there was little additional snow. The roads were passable and all schools were open apart from Ollaberry which closed at 2.30pm.
However the temperature again dropped below freezing at night and more snow meant schools in the North Isles and North and West Mainland were closed again on Wednesday. Dunrossness Primary was also closed.
The weather for the weekend is expected to be milder, meaning the snow will melt, with the prospect of further cooler weather later next week.