A motorist has described the “huge bang” when a giant lump of ice smashed his windscreen as he drove over the Queensferry Crossing.
Martin Aitchison was heading across the bridge – which will remain shut on Wednesday
over safety fears – when a chunk of ice plummeted onto his work van.
The 51-year-old’s Vauxhall was among eight vehicles damaged by ice falling onto the carriageway, forcing the crossing’s closure.
The £1.35 billion bridge, linking Edinburgh and Fife, was shut in both directions on Monday night due to falling ice and snow from overhead cables.
The move led to lengthy tailbacks on Tuesday as drivers had to take a 35-mile diversion across the Kincardine Bridge.
It’s the first time the Queensferry Crossing has closed since its 2017 opening.
The bridge had been expected to remain open in all weathers. It was fitted with 3.5m-high barriers designed to ensure the structure wouldn’t be closed by high winds.
Martin, a joiner who was heading home to South Queensferry, got a “fright” as the corner of his windscreen was damaged on Monday afternoon.
He said: “I was going southbound when there was a huge bang and the windscreen has blown.
“I drove on another 200 to 300 yards and stopped just behind an Amey truck.
“The guy who was there started pointing up at the bridge.”
Martin had been coming home from work at around 4.35pm and was directly underneath the north stanchion when the ice struck.
After stopping, Martin went on to bridge operator Amey’s nearby office and saw another two vehicles up on trucks and another motorist driving behind.
He said: “So there were four drivers in there in the space of about 30 minutes.
“To be fair, the Amey guys were pretty good. The first thing they asked was whether I needed towed.”
Another van driver, Paul McNicol, suffered a smashed windscreen on the bridge after it was hit by ice on Monday.
And a lorry driver delivering a mobile home to a Fife holiday park was stranded at the closed bridge.
Stephen Brooks, 44, from Hull, East Yorkshire, arrived at the Edinburgh side at around 9.30am on Tuesday while transporting the prefabricated building to Pettycur Bay Holiday Park in Kinghorn.
Stephen can only carry the abnormal load along a route agreed with Police Scotland, so he could be stuck there until the crossing reopens.
The Scottish Government has previously pledged to fit ice sensors to the bridge to alert engineers to ice build up. It came after incidents last March when falling ice had resulted in three car windscreens being broken.
Scottish Tory Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said: “The build up of ice and the risk to motorists using the bridge is a hazard that should have been considered before the bridge was opened to traffic. We are now seeing the consequences of this with bridge closures.
“It is just lucky that we have seen a mild winter to date, however it is vital we see a long term solution to the problem developed.
“Solid blocks of ice falling on motorists’ cars is hugely dangerous and all necessary steps must be taken to ensure the safety of motorists using the Queensferry Crossing.
“I’ll be raising the issue in Parliament with SNP Ministers as we must see sensors installed as a matter of urgency.”
Mark Arndt, of Forth Bridges Unit with Amey, told BBC Radio Scotland the closure was caused by a “unique set of weather conditions”.
He said: “We had a combination of strong westerly winds and a mixture of snow and sleet that resulted in snow accumulations on the main cables of the Queensferry Crossing.
“At an elevated height, that snow accumulation became chilled.
“It accumulated in a reasonable size and fell to the carriageway. And it was on the grounds of safety that we took the decision to close the bridge.”
Meanwhile, heavy snow struck a swathe of southern Scotland on Tuesday, with winds over 50mph producing blizzard conditions.
And the misery will continue with Storm Dennis expected to batter the country on Friday. It follows in the wake of the chaos caused by Storm Ciara at the weekend.
Rain from Storm Dennis and melting snow threaten to bring further disruption to road and rail transport.
The Queensferry Crossing will remain closed on Wednesday with the Scottish Government pledging to give updates on its likely reopening time.
ScotRail said it was running extra trains services across the Forth Bridge in the wake of the closure.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson visited the Queensferry Crossing yesterday and spoke with engineers. He said: “We are developing our understanding of these conditions, which involve a certain consistency of snow and/or sleet, wind speed and direction, interacting fluctuating low temperatures.
“This is leading to an ice formation on the bridge’s towers and cables at low temperature which has subsequently fallen from the bridge when thawed.
“We are doing all we can to mitigate the impacts of this closure.”
The minister said the Forth Road Bridge remained open to public transport from Edinburgh to Fife, but opening it “to general traffic is likely to result in increased congestion for all vehicles and leave the crossing vulnerable to lengthy delays as a result of any accidents or breakdowns.”
Tuesday’s bad weather disrupted rail and ferry travel. Police closed a nine-mile stretch of the M74 at Uddington after a lorry overturned.
Cross-border rail services were hit by a landslip between Kilmarnock and Dumfries, forcing the closure of the Glasgow Central to Carlisle line via Dumfries.
The conditions affected the West Highland Line and Airdrie to Balloch service, with buses replaced trains between Dumfries and Carlisle.
Forecasters don’t expect conditions under Storm Dennis to be as extreme as those seen under Storm Ciara.
But the Met Office issued a yellow warning for the weather front, which will see the country lashed by strong winds and heavy rain.
Around 20mm of rain is expected across high ground in areas including the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, and South Lanarkshire. Sections of East Lothian and Midlothian are also covered by the warning.