People in the south of Scotland are being urged to avoid travel this evening, following an amber warning for snow from the Met Office.
The amber warning is in place for Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire, and the southern parts of Edinburgh and the Lothians. It will be in place from 9pm tonight through to 5am on Thursday morning.
Yellow warnings for snow and ice remain in place for much of Scotland through to Friday night.
Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Team (SGoRR) and following that, the police travel warning level is being raised to stage four, which means people in the affected area should avoid travel during the period of the amber warning.
Transport Scotland has also been liaising with the freight industry to ensure they update their members.
Mr Yousaf said: “Firstly, I apologise to road users who were stuck on the M74 last night. It is not a situation anyone should have to experience and that is why we are taking steps to make sure we don’t face similar issues tonight.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to the emergency staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly last night to help the people that were stuck.
“The Met Office has issued an amber warning for snow for much of the south of Scotland tonight, and we are very likely to see more very challenging conditions. After speaking with all of our partner organisations, the police have decided to raise the travel warning to stage four, which means you should avoid travel in the affected area during the period of the amber warning.
“This decision has not been taken lightly, but it is the safest course of action. We don’t want people to travel during this period and put themselves and others at risk.
“Of course, snow remains an issue for the rest of the country. We had 162 gritters out on the trunk road network last night, and our winter maintenance fleets continue to work around the clock to treat roads and assist motorists where required.
“Anyone considering travelling by road should check the new Traffic Scotland mobile website - my.trafficscotland.org – for the most up to date information on the move and the @trafficscotland twitter page is updated regularly.
“It’s a similar message for people planning to travel by rail, ferry or plane - check with the operator ahead of time to find out if your service has been affected by the weather.”
Head of Road Policing, Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, added: “Weather conditions over the last few days have been extremely challenging, and this forecast of even more extreme conditions over the next day or so in these areas mean that we have to advise drivers to avoid travelling, and if they do, to expect severe delays of several hours or more.
“We urge people to think very seriously as to whether their journey is really necessary and is worth the risk, and if they decide they really have to travel, to be fully prepared to be self resilient. If you need medication for example, ensure you have it with you.
“No-one should ever place themselves at risk on the road and it may be worth considering postponing your journey or making alternative arrangements such as delaying travel until conditions improve or using public transport.
“If you are travelling on the roads you should ensure you and your vehicle are adequately prepared for the conditions, making sure you have sufficient fuel and supplies such as warm clothing, food and water in the event you are delayed for several hours. Charge your mobile phone and plan your route as well as alternative routes.
“Listen to media broadcasts, especially local radio, and visit the Traffic Scotland website.”