Gritters at the ready in Lancashire as cold snap bites

Gritters are at the ready.
Gritters are at the ready.
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Gritting crews are ready for action over the coming days as our mild winter is due to take a much colder turn.

Lancashire’s 49-strong fleet is ready to be called into action to grit the roads ahead of a cold period over the next week.

This is predicted to begin with heavy rain and hail showers on Saturday morning.

People are being warned to stay alert for very changeable conditions which could make roads treacherous even after they’ve been gritted.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Our gritters have been out less than 10 times so far this winter, but we understand from the Met Office that the long range forecast from now on is for the kind of weather we’d usually expect at this time of year.

“We treated a number of routes across the county last night, and temperatures could reach freezing again over the weekend and into next week.

“We’re as ready as we can be for whatever the weather throws at us with over 30,000 tonnes of salt in stock and 49 gritters ready to go from nine depots based around the county.

“We get very accurate weather forecasts and grit whenever a freeze is forecast. It isn’t practical to treat every road, however we treat all the A roads, all B roads, and some C roads, which adds up to around 1,500 miles of road – about a third of the total in Lancashire.

“Last year we experienced some very changeable conditions, including incidents when hail fell on freezing roads and turned to sheet ice in a few minutes. Rain falling on freezing surfaces can also create black ice which is virtually impossible to see, and can happen even when a road has been gritted.

“The very wet conditions we’ve had in recent weeks will also mean that run-off from fields or springs flowing up could create ice patches on rural roads, and I’d ask people to beware of this.

“I’d also ask people to remember that just because a road has been gritted it doesn’t mean it won’t be icy as it takes time and the action of tyres to mix the salt with the ice and make it work by lowering the temperature at which the water freezes.”

Lancashire County Council’s gritting fleet can treat the 1,500 miles of the county council’s priority road network within around four hours, but may take longer in severe conditions.

When it snows, it can cost up to £100,000 a day to keep the operation going. The county council also has on standby a number of agricultural contractors ready to clear more remote rural roads in the event of heavy snow.