Gritters out as temperatures drop

Council fleet prepares for ‘first freeze of winter’

GRITTING lorries will be out in force across Devon this evening (Friday) in preparation for the coldest temperatures in the county so far this winter.

Rain showers during the early part of the night are expected to be followed by freezing conditions and Devon County Council is warning of the potential of icy roads.

Road surface temperatures are forecast to plunge to as low as -3 C in the east of the county overnight, but all areas are expected to drop below zero.

The first full treatment of the season will see gritters treating around 1,700 miles of its main salting network on Devon’s major roads between 4pm and 10pm tonight. Most areas will also be treated at 3am tomorrow morning.

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Over the past few weeks the county’s gritters have only had to treat specific areas and higher ground, as temperatures have been milder than the average for this time of year.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “There is a potential for ice everywhere in the county overnight, and the forecast of rain on freezing roads could make driving conditions particularly treacherous.

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“Although road temperatures will rise above freezing during the days there will still be a need to take care when driving throughout the weekend.

“Motorists should be extremely careful, because ice can even form on roads which have been salted.”

The Highways Agency’s fleet of gritters will also be out treating 170 miles, of the strategic road network in the county.

Highways Agency service delivery team leader Malcolm Roberts added: “When forecasts predict a combination of showers and freezing conditions, motorists need to remain very aware of the added risk that this creates.

“Ice can easily form on carriageways despite repeated salting activity.”

More than 3,000 grit bins across Devon have been re-filled in preparation for winter. In addition to the county council’s gritting service, more than 220 towns and parishes have now also signed up to Devon’s snow warden scheme to provide self-help in their communities during severe weather.

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