End of a mild winter for gritting teams

Somerset County Council’s gritting teams are standing down after a milder than average winter.

The Council’s fleet of 23 gritters were needed on 46 occasions when freezing road surface temperatures were forecast, treating around 900 miles of road each time to help prevent ice forming. There were no significant snowfalls reported and no snow clearance actions were required.

This shows it was a relatively mild winter and compares with 71 actions in 2014/15, 61 in 2013/14 and 96 in 2012/13 – although it was not quite as mild as 2011/12 when gritters were only required on 44 occasions.

The start of the season was particularly unusual as warm weather dominated until Christmas and beyond. There were just three actions in November and only one in the whole of December – and that wasn’t until New Year’s Eve.

Late winter was more normal and February was the busiest month with the team called out 16 times. They were also in action on 13 occasions in January, 12 times in March and even once – so far – in April.

And with the weather remaining cool for the time of year, the team is continuing to monitor forecasts for road surface temperatures, ready to react if needed.

In total, around 3,500 tonnes of salt were used – just over half the 7,000 tonnes stockpiled at depots across Somerset. The remainder will be kept safely stored in special salt barns ready for use next winter.

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Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “Winter is always a challenge for our highways team who have to be on standby for potential gritting as well as carrying out their usual job of repairing and maintaining 4,000 miles of Somerset’s roads.

“Most people don’t realise it’s the same staff filling both important roles – and while it may be the end of winter, their work will continue with the focus simply switching to drainage improvements and resurfacing schemes.

“They do a great job and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank them for their hard work.”

To read about a typical day in the life of a gritter driver, please visit: https://somersetnewsroom.com/2016/01/15/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-gritter-driver/ .

You can also find out more about Somerset County Council’s winter maintenance programme, including maps of all the roads treated, at www.somerset.gov.uk/winterservice.

Gritting 2015