Icy roads expected in Devon with overnight rain

Joseph Bulmer

ICY roads could be a possibility overnight as rain and sleet is forecast for Devon this evening (Friday).

The major roads on Devon’s salting network have so far held up well to the freezing conditions as the county council’s gritters have been working constantly to keep routes as clear as possible.

The forecast of widespread rain presents additional problems as it could wash salt from treated roads and then turn to ice. Residents are being advised to take extreme care when travelling in the county, as ice may possibly form even on treated roads, and could cause problems off the main network.

Road surface temperatures plunged to -9.3 last night, but they are not predicted to be below -3C overnight with a thaw likely during the day. Although it is expected to turn milder at the weekend, colder conditions are then expected to return on Sunday evening.

Devon County Council’s gritters have ensured around 2,000 miles of the county’s main and secondary routes are adequately treated, and most routes are passable with care. The focus overnight will return to the major roads. Some routes in North and East Devon will be treated at around 6pm and all of the county’s major routes will be treated between 11pm and 3am, with the weather being constantly monitored. The Highways Agency will also be treating 170 miles of its strategic road network.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “Our main roads are passable with care and have been flowing smoothly, but conditions will remain treacherous overnight. The forecast of showers could lead to black ice, particularly on roads which haven’t been salted. With the threat of salt being washed off, even treated roads should be approached with extreme caution. Our teams will have quite a challenge on their hands but they’ll be doing everything they can to keep our highway network as clear as possible.”

Only Membury Community School near Axminster and Rackenford Church of England Primary were reported closed this morning, but a number of school bus routes have again been disrupted. A full list of route delays and cancellations and schools closures can be found by logging on to www.devonschoolclosures.info/

Motorists 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;

* Listen to local radio for updates on current weather conditions.

For more information and travel advice visit: www.devon.gov.uk/winter_travel