Frozen Devon: More snow on the way
DEVON County Council is gearing up for the onset of more snow this weekend. Temperatures dropped to as low as -16 degrees Celsius in South Molton overnight and the lowest road temperature was -12 C at Ashmill on the A361 North Devon Link Road. Up to anot
DEVON County Council is gearing up for the onset of more snow this weekend.
Temperatures dropped to as low as -16 degrees Celsius in South Molton overnight and the lowest road temperature was -12 C at Ashmill on the A361 North Devon Link Road.
Up to another four inches of snow is forecast across widespread areas of Devon from 3am on Sunday morning and continuing into Monday.
The county said the main salting routes remained passable with care, and that it would continue to concentrate on keeping more than 1,700 miles of main routes - 20per cent of Devon's road network - clear over the coming days.
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Ice is expected to continue to be a problem tonight (Friday) with road temperatures again dropping well below freezing at around -8 C. The county council's fleet of gritters is ensuring that routes are salted again this evening and all of the primary network will be treated at 4.30am tomorrow morning. Pavements in towns are also currently being treated and grit bins are being re-filled.
Primary routes will continue to be the priority if the forecast snow hits the county at the weekend. Due to the prolonged freezing conditions, the county council has said it cannot respond to any requests for road treatments. People with urgent hospital appointments are advised to call the hospital or surgery direct to arrange transport to collect them.
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Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: "There has been no let up for our staff this week and our highways and control centre teams, as well as SWH staff, have done a sterling job through what have been extremely trying circumstances.
"They should be applauded for their efforts in keeping Devon safe through this and. Their task won't be made any easier by the forecast of worsening conditions over the weekend and into next week, and communities may have to find ways of helping themselves to improve access, but rest assured our staff will continue to work around the clock to keep traffic moving as much as possible."
Chris Cranston, Devon County Council's Highway Operations Manager, said: "Luckily it was dry again last night, but the temperatures we're seeing are unprecedented and with no respite conditions will remain treacherous on minor routes.
"Our priority is to keep the major road network and shopping centres operational for as long as possible, but in order to do this and conserve our salt stocks, Devon County Council cannot respond to any requests for other road treatment. Grit bins will continue to be filled with grit, but some are being emptied as soon as they are filled.
"Drivers should avoid travelling overnight and drive with extreme care even on treated roads. Our staff and contractor, and everyone involved in the joint operation to keep Devon safe and moving, have been performing extremely well over the past few weeks in difficult circumstances, and it has been a great team effort."
Some of the roads on Dartmoor remain closed because of drifting snow and travel to the moor is still not advised.
Around 140 schools have been closed across the county today. It is likely that there will be some further disruption to school transport on Monday morning and the potential for further school closures. The situation will be kept under constant review and further advice will be issued on Sunday afternoon.
Access for meals on wheels and domiciliary carers has improved today and the county council has been using police 4x4 vehicles to help transfer staff to residential homes, and help nurses to deliver essential care in remote parts of the county.
The majority of day care centres have remained closed due to icy conditions and this is being reviewed on a daily basis. Day care users are advised to listen to local radio on Sunday afternoon for updates regarding the availability of Monday's community transport.
Ten of the County Council's recycling centres also remain closed.
Devon County Council is responsible for 8,000 miles of roads - the biggest network of any local authority in the country. It has used more than 17,000 tonnes of salt already this winter and has around 6,000 tonnes of salt, and 3,500 tonnes of grit remaining which is enough to treat the county's primary roads for a further nine days at the current rate of treatment.
Motorists are reminded of the following advice:
*Avoid travel unless absolutely essential, especially at night 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 can wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice. In very cold weather even salting will not stop ice from forming;
*If you have to travel, take an emergency kit in your car (shovel, blanket, hot drink, torch, de-icer, boots, battery jump leads);
*Allow extra time for your journey and reduce your speed;
*Listen to local radio for updates on current conditions;
*Drive with care and according to the conditions and pay attention to changing conditions. Be ready to slow down and take more care particularly on bends and exposed roads.
For more information about Devon's road network contact 0845 1551004 or visit the website: www.devon.gov.uk/winter_travel
Alternatively for trunk road and motorway information call the 24 hour Highways Agency Information Line for live traffic reports (08457-504030) or listen to the latest reports online at www.trafficradio.org.uk