A very wintry scene presented itself, even before daybreak. About 4 inches (10 cm) of snow on the ground, which had accumulated into drifts of more than a foot deep (up to 40 cm). This has caused extensive disruption in the whole of the north of Scotland. The A9 is closed from Brora to Thurso, that's 53 miles of road, including the A99 spur to Wick. Looking at the traffic cameras, the road is almost completely covered in snow. Most schools are shut in the Western Isles, and the situation on the mainland is similarly bad. Here in town, the weekly bin collection has been cancelled for the first time that I've been here - that tends to go ahead, even in stormy weather. There is also no ferry service to the mainland from Stornoway, due to a heavy northerly swell. The alternative route, between Harris and Skye, is running as scheduled, as it's sheltered from the north.