Somerset gritters rack up 47,000 miles this winter

Somerset County Council’s gritting teams are standing down after travelling the equivalent of nearly twice around the world this winter.

The fleet of 23 gritters were needed on 52 occasions when freezing temperatures were forecast, treating around 900 miles of road each time to help prevent ice forming. There were only a couple of snowfalls on higher ground and no major snow clearance actions were required.

Although it was colder than last year, when there were just 46 actions, it was still a relatively mild winter compared to 71 actions in 2014/15, 61 in 2013/14 and 96 in 2012/13.

Gritting was required on 11 occasions in November, 9 in December, 17 in January, 11 in February and 4 in March.

While there have also been some chilly nights in April, the warm days have helped keep road surface temperatures above freezing and no actions have been required so far – although the team will continue to keep an eye on forecasts for a few weeks yet, just in case.

In total, around 4,900 tonnes of salt were used of the 7,000 tonnes stockpiled at depots across Somerset. The remainder will be kept safely stored in special salt barns ready for use next year.

The winter was also slightly drier than average with 95 per cent of the norm recorded in Taunton. This contrasts with a particularly wet November which saw 169 per cent of the long term average rainfall in Taunton. This was mainly attributable to Storm Angus when 102mm of rain fell in just 48 hours and highways teams responded to more than 500 emergency calls.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “Our highways teams do a great job through the depths of winter, often working long unsociable hours to help keep our roads safe.

“Hopefully the freezing nights are over for another year, but our emergency teams will remain on standby, ready to respond whenever bad weather hits. Many thanks to them all.”

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.travelsomerset.co.uk/gritting.