National Highways has announced gritters are out for the first significant operation of this autumn and winter season on motorways and major A-roads as temperatures dip across the country.
The government-owned company switched over to autumn and winter operations on 1 October, readying teams at 128 depots across the country to keep the country’s busiest roads open in the face of deteriorating weather.
This includes monitoring Met Office weather forecasts along with regular road assessments from meteorological experts DTN and MetDesk.
With milder weather in October and November, minimal action was needed on our roads network with road surface temperatures staying above +1 degrees C – until now.
That has changed, with National Highways’ comprehensive forecasting services indicating road surfaces are at risk of developing ice in certain regions today – triggering the need for our gritter drivers in numerous areas to conduct their first salt spreading runs of the season.
A number of Met Office National Severe Weather Warnings have been issued as an arctic maritime airmass brings cold weather to the UK with a risk of ice, wintry showers and snow. In England there are yellow weather warnings for ice in North Cornwall and North Devon as well as along the East coast and northern England. Further severe weather warnings could be issued as we head through the week.
Darren Clark, Severe Weather Resilience Manager at National Highways, said: “We manage a huge roads network nationwide – with over 4,500 miles of motorways and A-roads.
“Not all roads will need treating on any given day. Gritters may need to go out in some regions if road temperatures fall below +1 degrees C, and if there is a risk of ice forming, but not in other areas if conditions are not as cold.
“National Highways is committed to treating every road which needs to be treated – whenever it is needed. We are armed with the latest technology, forecasting intelligence and years of experience to help us make informed decisions about where and when we need to spread salt to help keep road users safe in even the most adverse weather conditions.”
National Highways recently completed the assembly of its new £44m two-year investment in a fleet of 252 Volvo gritter vehicles, some of which carried out winter operations last year, and all of which will be involved in salt spreading this season. The investment now means the organisation has around 530 gritter vehicles available this winter. The state-of-the-art gritters were showcased on October 24 coinciding with a new salt depot opening at Malton. A total of 443 of these vehicles are Volvo gritters.
Vehicles can carry up to around 12,000 kg of salt, or 8,400 kg of salt and 3,600 litres of brine at any one time. The Volvo gritting vehicles can spread up to 50mph, encouraging traffic to keep moving more effectively on the roads even when they are being treated. When not treating they can travel up to 56mph.
(Picture – National Highways)