All of Shetland’s schools will remain closed on Wednesday amid warnings from forecasters that the snowy weather is set to continue for the rest of the week.
The decision to shut all 33 schools plus the Eric Gray Resource Centre and Shetland College for a second day was made at lunchtime on Tuesday.
Pupils were granted a day off on Tuesday after up to 12 inches of snow fell in some places on Monday night and the early hours of Tuesday morning, making it difficult for bus drivers to get their vehicles out of their depots.
The sheer volume of snow caused difficulties for drivers. Police reported a number of minor accidents and advised motorists to undertake only essential journeys. Among the incidents was a blockage to the road north out of Lerwick caused by a lorry which got stuck trying to get up the hill.
The Met Office issued a severe weather warning for Shetland, predicting further heavy snow falls of between two and four inches. The snow showers will ease overnight, although they are expected to continue on and off for the next few days.
Temperatures fell to between -3°C and -5°C in Lerwick on Monday night. On Tuesday the temperature was -2°C in the town and -3°C in Baltasound.
Weatherman at the Fair Isle observatory Dave Wheeler said: “A lot of the snow clouds are to the west and north of Shetland so it will mainly affect the west Mainland, Lerwick and northwards, although the wintery conditions are working their way south, so the South Mainland and Fair Isle may be affected later in the day.”
He added: “This is probably the coldest, snowiest winter Shetland has had since 1987. We have had deeper falls of snow as lately as five or six years ago, but it’s unusual for it to have lain for so long.”
All of the SIC’s gritters were out from 6am working to clear the main roads, with JCB diggers and tractors working on the side roads.
Roads inspector Robert Goudie said many of the roads in the north had been blocked but they were working to clear as many as possible.
Mr Goudie said there was a blanket cover of 12 inches in the North Mainland and eight inches in the West Side. In the North Isles four to six inches had fallen. In the south the situation was better, although Lerwick was bad with around 6-10 inches of snowfall.
He also said the SIC’s salt stores were running low, although a shipment was expected to arrive in Lerwick on Tuesday afternoon.