Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, said: “It looks like some of the coldest weather we’ve experienced in some years could be coming our way. Even though we have been salting far more frequently than usual this winter, our salt barns around the county have stocks of around 13,000 tonnes, with further replenishment due this week; and our teams remain on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The main road network has already been treated several times in preparation for the incoming weather , and, with a prolonged cold spell forecast, our teams are also planning to treat the minor routes in advance to make sure everyone can continue to get to work, school and college, whatever the weather.
“I would ask Hampshire residents to be patient if they find themselves driving behind a gritter, and allow the vehicles the space to do their work keeping our roads free of ice and snow.
“Thousands of community salt bins are ready for people to help keep public footpaths free of ice and snow. With a prolonged cold spell coming up, it is important to remember that only a small amount of salt is needed to treat reasonably large areas. I would also remind people to drive safely, adjust their driving according to the conditions and leave more time for their journeys.”
Hampshire Highways’ new winter vehicles can be quickly fitted with snow ploughs and they are equipped with the latest GPS technology to make sure salting operations are as efficient as possible.
If snow does arrive in Hampshire, the County Council will be able to call on volunteer farmers across Hampshire who have County Council snow ploughs ready to fit onto their tractors to supplement the work of the highways winter fleet. Over 100 farmers are ready to help the County Council keep the roads clear of snow, should the need arise. Salt wicks, which are similar to sandbags, will be deployed to treat known ‘wet spots’. These ensure that any water running off fields and onto the roads is salty, meaning these roads are coated in salt ahead of any freeze. With extreme sub zero temperatures forecast overnight, residents on the road will need to be particularly careful as salt begins to lose its effect from about -5C.
Highways crews will always salt Hampshire's main roads first. These ‘Priority one’ routes cover approximately one third of the county road network but carry the majority of Hampshire’s traffic; covering A roads, some B roads, major bus routes, roads to hospitals and other key emergency hubs, large schools and colleges, areas of high traffic concentration and public transport interchanges.
With the cold weather expected to last for at least a week, the County Council is reminding those who may be vulnerable to cold weather, such as the very young or old, and those with certain medical conditions, will need to take extra care.
Councillor Patricia Stallard, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Health and Public Health, said: “Taking extra care during cold weather is important for everyone, but particularly important for people who are more vulnerable to suffering ill health due to the cold, such as babies and very young children (under 5 years), older people (75+ years) and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or diabetes.
“I would also encourage people to look out for any vulnerable neighbours, particularly in rural areas, to ensure they are able to stay warm, have warm food and drinks, can access medication if they need it and have a clear access to and from their homes, to help prevent them falling.”
If anyone is worried about an elderly neighbour or relative, they should call Hampshire County Council’s Adults’ Health and Care team on 0300 555 1386, during the week in working hours, (8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 4.30pm Friday) or call 0300 555 1373 out of hours and on weekends and Bank Holidays.
For the latest information on when the winter fleet is set to salt Hampshire roads, and information on roads affected by bad weather, follow @hantshighways on Twitter.
- More information on Hampshire roads during severe weather
- ROSPA has some good advice on safe winter driving
- Information on any schools affected by adverse weather.