Shetland power cut: Major incident declared as thousands brave cold snap without heating

Engineers are still working to try to reconnect thousands of homes in Shetland after heavy snow brought down power lines. Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith reports

Thousands of people in Shetland have spent a second night without power in freezing conditions.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution is working to restore supplies to about 2,800 homes, but warned that full restoration is only likely by the end of the week.

Temperatures in Shetland could hit 0°C on Wednesday night, and -5°C 24 hours later.

On Tuesday, the Scottish government declared a major incident for Shetland after thousands of homes were left without power on Monday evening following significant snowfall.

Scottish coastguard rescue teams respond to reports of vehicles forced off the road. Credit: HM Coastguard - Orkney & Shetland

The Met Office has extended a yellow warning for snow and ice covering northern Scotland and north-east England until noon on Friday.

Minus 17.3°C was recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire on Monday into Tuesday, making it the coldest place in the UK for the second night in a row.

More engineers are due to arrive in Shetland on the ferry from Aberdeen on Wednesday to help restore power.

SSEN spokesman Graeme Keddie told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Firstly I’d like to apologise to those customers still without power and reassure them that we are making every effort to get to them.

“This morning, as of overnight, we have 2,800 homes without power across Shetland. We made very good progress yesterday reconnecting 1,000 homes and hope to make continued progress today, particularly as the travel situation we talked about, the flights restarting, and also we’ve got 15 additional line crews are coming over on this morning’s freight ferry and more by helicopter so that will make a real difference to restoration efforts.

Mr Keddie said Shetland had experienced “a very concentrated and explosive weather event" that was far more severe than forecast.

“The local teams have said this is the worst they’ve seen since 1995 over the Christmas period,” he added.

Meanwhile, heavy snow showers have been reported in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire on Wednesday, where motorists have been warned to drive with care.

Overnight snow at Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside.

Met Office spokeswoman Becky White said areas covered by the latest weather warnings could see up to 10cm of fresh snow on higher ground.

Snow and ice warnings are also in place in the South West until 10am on Wednesday.

Ms White added that the South West could see 1-2cm of snow at lower levels, and 1-10cm of snow on higher ground such as Dartmoor and Exmoor.

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An ice warning is in place in eastern England until noon on Wednesday.

The national forecaster has also added a yellow ice warning in northern parts of Northern Ireland, including Belfast, from noon on Tuesday until noon on Wednesday.

Scores of schools across the UK were forced to close for a second day on Tuesday due to the cold weather.

Councils from Aberdeenshire to Cambridgeshire reported school closures, for reasons including heating failure, burst pipes and snow and ice, while all schools in Shetland were shut on Tuesday due to the weather conditions.

In Sheffield, engineers said they had just over 100 households left to reconnect to gas as of Tuesday evening after nearly 2,000 homes in the city lost supplies 11 days earlier when a burst water main filled the local gas network with more than a million litres of water.