Judith Duffy – Daily Express December 2, 2010
FEARS were growing over shop shelves being emptied by panic buyers last night as it emerged that Scotland has suffered its worst early snowfall in 45 years.
Retailers reported a “siege mentality” among shoppers flocking to buy basics such as bread and milk, with lorries struggling to make deliveries in atrocious conditions across the UK.
Transport chaos continued with airports shut, more white-out conditions on major roads and the Forth Road Bridge closed because of snow for the first time since it opened in 1964.
Temperatures overnight plummeted to minus 21C in Altnaharra in the Highlands, one of the coldest temperatures on record for December 1.
More than 250,000 pupils across Scotland missed lessons, with several councils shutting around 1,500 of the country’s 2,500 schools. All state schools in Midlothian, West Lothian, East Lothian and the Borders have now been closed until Monday.
Elsewhere, a 20-year-old woman in the advanced stages of labour had to be rescued from the village of Lochinver, north of Ullapool, by a Coastguard helicopter.
She was taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and later gave birth to a baby boy.
Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “Scotland is now experiencing its worst snowfall at this time of year since 1965, but we are seeing the country pulling together to help overcome the extreme conditions.”
He made his comments as he visited the Stockbridge House Day Centre for the elderly in Edinburgh to see community service work by offenders to clear the snow.
Edinburgh has seen the worst snowfall since 1963, with refuse workers and contractors being drafted in to help clear the up to 20 inches of snow which has fallen in the past four days.
The city’s airport was forced to scrap its entire flight schedule yesterday after £1million of new snow clearing equipment bought following last year’s wintry weather failed to cope with the massive volume of snow.
Lorna Lawlor, 30, from Dublin, said she had been trying to get home since Sunday and spent four hours stuck on a plane on Tuesday night before the flight was cancelled.
She said: “The pilot tried to take off but the plane crashed into snow. What’s worse, I now can’t get back over the Forth Road Bridge to get to my friend’s house.”
Dundee Airport and Gatwick Airport in London were also closed yesterday.
Supermarkets said supplies, though delayed, were getting through to stores. They reported soaring sales of soup, de-icer and salt. But Katie Mackie, spokeswoman for the Scottish Grocers’ Federation warned: “It is so far okay, but if it carries on much longer then it could become a bit worrying.”
Oil giant BP warned the weather was affecting deliveries from the Grangemouth terminal to its petrol stations across Scotland.
All six Scottish Premier League matches at the weekend have been postponed because of travel problems caused by the weather conditions.