With a Met Office yellow warning in place between 9pm tonight (Tue, 29 Jan) and 12pm tomorrow (Wed, 30 Jan) and bad weather forecast across the region, Nottinghamshire County Council’s gritting crews are gearing up for a busy week and are urging drivers to be cautious and prepared for the icy and possibly snowy conditions.
Chairman of the county council’s communities and place committee, Councillor John Cottee said: “From forecasts there seems to be a very fine balance on this occasion as to whether we end up with snow or rain and subtle changes in timings may make all the difference.
“This said, road temperatures are expected to be below zero this week, so our 23 gritting crews will be out keeping our main A and B roads and severe routes clear to keep Nottinghamshire moving. This morning we are out gritting pavements and main routes throughout the county and our gritters will be on standby for later in the day as required.
Forecasters expect patchy rain and sleet merging into a band of sleet and snow tonight which could even fall on lower ground as it shifts from the northwest to southwest before dying away eastwards to leave weather mostly clear and cold overnight. Any snowfall is unlikely to be more than 3cm.
Gritting team manager Kevin Heathcote said: “We stockpiled 20,000 tonnes of salt at the start of the winter across our four depots at Markham Moor, Bilsthorpe, Newark and Gamston. This is well above Government recommendations, so our stocks are still looking very healthy.
“We spread the salt in advance of snow and ice so it can start to mix with the moisture to create the saline solution, to help to reduce the accumulation of snow and also help to prevent ice forming.
“But people often think that putting grit on a road will, by itself, melt the snow and ice – the salt actually needs to moved around the road by traffic to complete the process.
Explaining the limitations as to what salt can do, Kevin added: “So when traffic levels are low, roads can remain icy for some time and drivers need to bear this in mind.
“And in prolonged periods of snowfall, the snow can fall at a rate faster that the salt can mix with the snow. Therefore snow will accumulate no matter what we try to do in advance.”
So, when you look at a main road and see snow has settled, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the road has not been treated. It simply means the rate of snowfall has been enough for it to accumulate while the salt is still mixing to form a solution.
And at temperatures below minus six degrees, the effectiveness of the salt is reduced, meaning there’s a chance that ice could form even though the gritters have salted the roads, so it’s important that road users are mindful of the limitations.
A further spell of snow is possible on Thursday night too and on Friday any snow should soon break apart to patchy sleet and drizzle before it has the chance to settle.
When driving in wintry conditions, the council is advising people to plan their route with the help of our online maps which show which roads are gritted: www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/gritting
For winter weather alerts and information, follow @NottsCC on Twitter.
For tips and advice from our gritter drivers about driving in snow and ice and how the grit works to melt the ice, watch these handy videos: //www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/planning-and-environment/emergencies-and-disruption/winter-weather/safe-driving-in-winter