Schools in Shetland will not reopen for the new term on Wednesday as the longest-running cold snap to have gripped the isles in almost 30 years continues unabated.
Head of schools service Helen Budge said icy conditions combined with further light snowfall overnight had prompted the decision. A decision about whether to open schools on Thursday will be made later.
The Met office has advised that Orkney and Shetland face a moderate risk of heavy and frequent snow showers throughout the week, with wintry conditions continuing well into the middle of the month.
Met Office spokesman Robin Thwaites said the most recent comparable cold snap was as long ago as December 1981.
“We will be seeing colder weather all of this week and most, if not all, of next week,” he said. “We will be seeing an attempt – and it is most definitely an attempt – by milder weather to come in next weekend.
“We’re calling it an attempt because once cold air gets established it can be rather difficult to budge, and we’re not being presumptuous of anything.”
The warning comes as the isles continue to endure freezing temperatures which have created icy conditions on roads and pavements.
The council’s fleet of 23 gritters have already been in operation since 8th December in a bid to keep all routes clear of snow and ice.
A number of smaller tractor units have also been tasked with keeping pavements clear to maintain a level of safety for pedestrians.
Thankfully the islands have managed to avoid the problems of shortfalls in grit supplies which have impacted on councils on the mainland.
Roads inspector David Spence said there was enough salt to last the council until Thursday when a fresh shipment is due to arrive.
The council has even sent 100 tonnes of grit to Orkney, returning the favour given when Shetland stocks ran out last February.
Police have repeated their advice given before the New Year for motorists to take care, warning that the Voe to Laxo road was badly affected by fresh snow falls on Monday night.