Shetland is bracing itself for another onslaught of wintry weather which is due tomorrow and expected to last four days. Heavy snow and ice are forecast and police have urged motorists to take extra care.
The weather is likely to affect NorthLink sailings, and tonight the Hjaltland will sail from Lerwick at 5.30pm and go direct to Aberdeen without calling at Kirkwall.
The Hrossey will sail from Aberdeen at 7pm tonight as normal but tomorrow’s departure from Lerwick, due to leave at 7pm, is currently under review due to forecast adverse weather conditions. A further update will follow at 11am tomorrow.
The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for the Shetland area forecasting widespread icy roads and heavy snow for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Today rain will become heavier and more persistent during the evening, with north-westerly winds increasing to gale force eight. Overnight the rain will turn to sleet and then snow as gales veer northerly. With temperatures dropping rapidly to freezing, there will be the risk of widespread ice forming on roads and pavements.
The sea state will steadily increase to rough, with a three to four metre swell developing.
Tomorrow will be bitterly cold with a high wind-chill and penetrating frost as temperatures remain below freezing and northerly gales continue. Snow showers coupled with the wind will result in blizzards at times, with very poor visibility and the likelihood of travel disruption.
The sea state will becoming very rough overnight, increasing during the day to a predicted swell of eight to nine metres.
Police have urged drivers to be prepared for the inclement weather conditions. This means reducing speed where roads are affected by snow and ice.
A Northern Constabulary spokesman said: “Allow extra time for your journey and carry with you warm clothing, a blanket, snow shovel and ensure your mobile phone is fully charged prior to setting out and that your petrol tank is at least half full to allow you to keep warm.”
Up to date information from Northern Constabulary regarding road conditions is passed to local news agencies frequently, and motorists should take account of these reports when planning journeys and heed police advice as to whether travel is advisable or not.
Meanwhile, Shetland Islands Council has set up a single web page which will carry information on weather-related service disruption.
A new link now appears on the council’s website at www.shetland.gov.uk. By clicking that, it will open a single page which shows information on weather-related disruption such as school closures, the condition of roads and the latest inter-island ferry information. It also provides useful links to NorthLink and Loganair services.
SIC communications project manager Peter Peterson said: “We’re very conscious that a lot of this information appears in various places on the council’s website at the moment. So this is just an attempt to bring it all together into one place and save everyone time. Of course we will still be working with the local media to get the information out.
“We’re keen to build on this going forward. However, based on the feedback we received over the past fortnight and tomorrow’s forecast, it was felt that this would be a helpful first step.”