The Met Office has upgraded it weather warning to Red - the highest possible level - for Strathclyde, Central, Tayside, Fife, South West Scotland, Lothian and the Borders.
The Chief Forecaster’s assessment says: “Snow showers already affecting the area will become heavier and more prolonged later on Wednesday afternoon and at times through the evening and overnight period, with five centimetres of snow falling within an hour in some places and lying snow reaching 20-30cm and possibly 40cm in a few places by mid morning on Thursday.
“Strong easterly winds will lead to significant drifting of lying snow.”
The red warning will be valid from 3pm today until tomorrow at 10am, an amber warning is already in place until 10pm tomorrow.
A further meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room (SGoRR) has been held today, chaired by the Deputy First Minister and attended by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, to ensure preparations are in place to deal with the forecast conditions.
Mr Yousaf said: “This is the first red warning that has been issued for snow under the current system which means that conditions in affected areas will be extremely treacherous.
“I would urge people to follow police advice and avoid travel in those areas affected by the red and amber warnings. We recognise it will have an impact on people travelling to and from work over the next 24 hours and so I would encourage employers to be as flexible as possible with their staff.
“If you need to travel, your journey is likely to be disrupted and in many instances there may be cancellations, there is the possibility you could be stranded and this could interfere with emergency services and those clearing the roads. I would urge parents to continue to check school notices with their local authorities before making any decisions on travel.
“In these severe conditions I would also encourage people where possible to check in with elderly neighbours or anyone who may be particularly vulnerable.
“Winter maintenance fleets are working 24/7 to treat the trunk road network and will be standing ready to assist motorists if required. We have more gritters available this year than ever before.
“To access the most up to date travel information, you can use the Traffic Scotland mobile website or follow @trafficscotland on Twitter page. If you’re planning to travel by rail, ferry or air, please check with your operator ahead of time. It’s inevitable the weather conditions will also impact on other modes of transport.”