County on alert for snow and icy roads

Gritting depot

Posted on: 16 March 2018

Devon is on alert again for the possibility of another bout of snow this weekend.

With the Met Office having issued an amber warning for snow and ice in the county for Sunday (18 March), Devon County Council’s 37 frontline gritters are treating around 2,000 miles of the county’s main routes and road users are being reminded to be aware of the wintry conditions.

Isolated snow flurries are expected on Saturday afternoon, but overnight on Saturday road surface temperatures are set to tumble below freezing and from the early hours of Sunday the forecast is for up to 5cm of snow to be widespread. There is a possibility of greater amounts of snow on higher ground.

The County Council is warning that driving conditions could be difficult in some parts of the county on Sunday and into Monday morning as well.

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We’ve seen already this winter how disruptive the snow can be and how rapidly conditions can change on our roads. Our gritting teams are doing everything possible to ensure that our main salting routes are treated before the temperatures drop below zero. With the recent rainfall we’ve had, there is a lot of run off on some roads which could wash any salt away and freeze so please take extra care. Road surface temperatures are expected to be even lower on Sunday night into Monday so there could be disruption, particularly on higher ground.

“While the forecast suggests that the amount of snow might not be as much as we had at the start of the month, we would urge people to please take normal winter precautions and ensure you have essential kit with you. Our advice is to avoid travelling at night on Saturday and Sunday if at all possible, and if the snow does arrive as forecast and you don’t need to travel then please avoid putting yourself at risk.”

Devon County Council, Highways England and Devon and Cornwall Police have been liaising closely and the Haldon/Telegraph Hill Plan is ready to be activated.

Highways England Network Operations Manager Rob Llewellyn said: “With rain landing on extremely cold ground, and a forecast of snow, particularly for Sunday, we’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys. We are doing everything possible to prepare for more severe weather. Our gritters are out treating our routes around the clock but it is still important to drive to the conditions when snow and ice is forecast.  Drivers are also encouraged to consider whether their journey can be delayed.”

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson said: “We advise the public to drive to conditions of the road, slow down, keep your distance and keep an eye on weather reports.”

People should also be aware that strong easterly winds, particularly in coastal areas, could have the potential to cause further erosion and possible disruption on local roads.

So far this winter, Devon County Council has used around 17,500 tonnes of salt, but still has more than 8,000 tonnes in stock.

Local residents are being reminded of the following advice:

• Avoid overnight travel unless absolutely essential as roads will always be more hazardous at night with less traffic and colder temperatures;
• Never assume a road has been salted. Remember that showers or rain will wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice, and in extreme cold even salting will not stop ice from forming;
• Allow additional time for your journey and reduce your speed;
• Drive with care and according to the conditions;
• If you have vulnerable or elderly neighbours, think about how they could possibly be helped through the cold spell;
• Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long-term illness or are 65 or over. NHS Choices has more information on staying healthy during cold weather;
• Listen to local radio for updates on current weather conditions and ensure you are stocked with food and medications
• Check out any school closures and sign up for alerts for any school by clicking on ‘Alert Me’.

For more information and travel advice from Devon County Council visit: www.devon.gov.uk/winter_travel or for updates on Twitter follow @DevonAlert

Posted in: DCC Homepage | Environment