Gritters will be out in force this evening and overnight as Devon braces itself for heavy snow.
With the Met Office issuing an amber warning, the county is facing the prospect of up to 10cm of snow.
Although temperatures are forecast to drop only marginally below freezing, strong winds could create blizzard conditions from the early hours of tomorrow which may cause travel disruption during the morning rush hour.
Devon County Council’s gritters will be treating routes on higher ground in the north and east of the county as well as Dartmoor and Exmoor. Around 1,700 miles of the County Council’s precautionary salting network will then be treated at midnight and again at 4am.
The Highways Agency's fleet of gritters will be going out twice this evening treating 170 miles of the strategic road network in the county and is on standby throughout the night ready to carry out additional runs when needed. The Agency and County Council is also ready with snow ploughs to deal with any significant accumulations of snow.
Devon County Council, the Highways Agency, and Devon and Cornwall Police are working closely together and are on alert to respond. The Forward Command Point will also be established at Haldon Hill and Telegraph Hill this evening to monitor conditions.
People across the county are being advised to check weather forecasts and to allow extra time for their journey tomorrow morning.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said:
“We’re facing the potential of a heavy band of snow across Devon overnight, so travelling conditions could become difficult, particularly on minor roads off of the main salting network. We are working closely with Police and the Highways Agency to be as prepared as we possibly can be to deal with the forecast snow. Roads will be kept as clear as possible, but I would urge caution. Everyone should be prepared for the possibility of travel disruption and plan their journey accordingly, and if it is not essential then please consider alternatives.”
Devon County Council will be supported by more than 260 volunteer snow wardens who have been placed on alert to engage their self-help plans in their local communities.
Motorists are 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.