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National Highways has 530 gritters on standby as Met Office issues warnings for ice, snow and freezing temperatures





Motorists in Suffolk are being asked to give gritting vehicles time and space to work as 530 are put on standby to tackle the incoming Arctic blast.

With warnings that snow is on its way and road temperatures expected to drop below freezing, National Highways is asking drivers to show patience to salting teams as they begin preparing busy routes for bad weather.

National Highways manages 4,500 miles of A-roads and motorways and can call upon around 530 gritters in extreme weather conditions.

Cold weather alerts are in place for England
Cold weather alerts are in place for England

With a level three cold weather alert in place across England and yellow warnings issued for ice and snow, transport chiefs have said they're watching changing conditions on the roads carefully.

But in order for gritters to spread salt in the most successful way drivers are being asked to hang back, avoid over taking and give the heavy vehicles, which can travel at 50mph, a chance to lay the salt needed.

Darren Clark, Severe Weather Resilience Manager at National Highways, said: "As our gritting teams go out to spread salt on the roads, our message is simple to all road users: ‘Please be patient and give us the time and space to do what we need to do to keep you safe.

National Highways is asking drivers to give teams time and space to work
National Highways is asking drivers to give teams time and space to work

"If you are going to pass us, please do so courteously, pass us safely and legally, or even better, if you are able to stay back, you will actually help the salt on the road activate even more quickly by crushing and breaking it into the road surface which benefits everyone.

"It’s worth remembering too, we are not gritting all the time. Some of our fleet may come off at particular junctions or return to depots while other vehicles take over, lowering any inconvenience to motorists. We are once again totally committed to working around the clock on these seasonal operations to keep all road users safe and thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding."

Gritting teams use weather forecasts from both the Met Office and meteorological experts MetDesk to determine when salt spreading will be needed.

The Met Office forecasts that many areas across England and Scotland will see snow and ice this week. A UK Health Security Agency cold weather alert is also in place.

The Met Office is warning of 'disruptive' weather in the coming days
The Met Office is warning of 'disruptive' weather in the coming days

Chief Meteorologist Dan Suri said: "Snow, ice and low temperatures are the main themes of this week’s forecast, as the UK comes under the influence of an arctic maritime airmass as cold air moves in from the north.

"Snow is already falling in parts of the north where some travel disruption likely, as well as a chance of some rural communities being cut off.

"Ice will provide an additional hazard for many with overnight low temperatures well below 0°C for many. Further south wintry hazards will develop with parts of England and Wales affected by icy patches and snow in places tonight and likely further snow in parts of the south early Wednesday."

National Highways says the gritters can travel up to 50mph
National Highways says the gritters can travel up to 50mph

National Highways says it's not always the case that all roads need treating all of the time.
Darren added: "Gritters may need to go out in some regions if road temperatures are expected to fall below 1C and if there is a risk of ice forming, but not in other areas if conditions are not as cold.

"National Highways is committed to treating every road which needs to be treated - whenever it is needed.

"We are armed with the latest technology, forecasting intelligence and years of experience to help us make informed decisions about where and when we need to spread salt to help keep road users safe in even the most adverse weather conditions."