THOUSANDS of homes in Scotland are to remain without power for at least another day after heavy snow caused disruption to power supplies in parts of the country over the weekend.

The Scottish Government said a total of 18,000 properties were without power yesterday, with communities in Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and on the Isle of Arran the worst hit.

Blocked roads, high winds and blizzards hampered the repair effort after power lines were brought down and supply routes cut off.

The weather was so bad on Friday night that many people in Dumfries and Galloway were stuck in their cars overnight on the A75.

England was also badly hit, and a 27-year-old man was found dead in deep snow in Lancashire.

ScottishPower said its main area of concern was around the south-west peninsula of Scotland in the Wigtonshire, Portpatrick and Newton Stewart areas, where some 3000 properties are "off supply".

It said 200 engineers worked through Saturday, but heavy snow meant they were unable to gain access to many roads in the region, some of which had snow drifts up to 10ft high. A spokesman said: "Our engineers will work as late as is safely possible, but it is likely that some customers will remain off supply overnight."

Scottish Hydro said it also had 200 engineers working to restore power to customers in Argyll and the surrounding islands. Head of engineering Alan Broadbent said that engineers were out at "first light" on Saturday continuing their efforts to restore power to the 9000 in the area who were still off supply.

He said: "We are well resourced and have mobile generation ready to go, but access continues to be a major problem."

Transport Minister Keith Brown said those who spent the night on the A75 in Dumfries and Galloway were given support by emergency services and local mountain rescue volunteers.

He said some chose to stay in their cars overnight, adding: "We're not aware of anyone who was not offered a form of accommodation."

Driving conditions continue to be affected by snow and high winds, mainly in the south-west and north-east. Police have advised the public not to travel in the Dumfries and Galloway area because of "extremely dangerous" conditions and to avoid parts of rural Angus.

Roads were also closed in Ayrshire, Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross, Argyll and Bute, and West Lothian, and there was a warning about drifting snow in the Highlands.

After a first meeting on Friday night, Brown chaired a further Scottish Government Resilience meeting yesterday morning.

He said: "Every effort is being made collectively by our road operating companies, local authorities and other partners to clear the main routes. While we're doing all we can to minimise travel related disruption, we'd urge drivers to follow police advice, particularly where the advice is not to travel.

"The Scottish Government's Resilience team will continue to co-ordinate response and recovery activity throughout the weekend and offer assistance where possible."