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Gritters out as temperatures plummet in Cornwall

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3:53pm 24th November 2017
(Updated 3:53pm 24th November 2017)

The gritters are out across the whole Cornwall as temperatures plummet.

Salt spreading will take place on all routes of the county from 6pm Sunday night.

A Cormac spokesperson said: "A few showers will soon clear this afternoon with a dry and mostly clear period during the evening.

"However, scattered showers will move in after around 8pm, possibly with some sleet, wet snow and hail mixed in over the hills.

"Clear spells with a few showers continuing to move in through the rest of the night with RSTs dropping below zero and the risk of hoar frost and icy patches.

"Bright spells and a few showers through tomorrow morning."

Scroll down to read seven tips for driving in icy conditions and how to prepare your car for winter.

And we could even see some of the white stuff in the South West.

The Met Office says snow or sleet could fall over the moors on Friday night.

A spokesperson said: "Tonight will be staying cold overnight with clear spells and occasional showers, which could fall as sleet or snow over high ground. Minimum temperature -2 °C.

"Saturday will be cold, bright and breezy with a few showers likely. These could turn to sleet or snow, especially over high ground."

Cormac has a fleet of 25 gritters and six reserves on permanent standby between November and March.

They are responsible for the majority of the roads in the Duchy but Highways England is responsible for the A30 and A38.

On its website, Cormac says: "We monitor weather conditions all day and night, liaising closely with forecasters and we also have 11 roadside sensors measuring temperatures and other roadside factors.

"Once there’s a likely threat of ice or snow, we trigger our treatment procedures. This involves simultaneously sending one gritter along each of 25 designated precautionary salting routes.

"These routes consist of the busiest A and B roads on the council’s 7250 kilometre (4530 miles) network. This includes key roads to hospitals, secondary schools and bus stations.

"Usually, each gritter will complete its route within three hours. Our aim is to complete salting at least an hour before road surface temperatures are predicted to reach freezing point".

How does it work?

icy tyre track

Salt doesn’t melt snow or ice.

When mixed with water, salt lowers its freezing point. The greater the concentration of salt, the lower the freezing point. However, salt can take time to dissolve. Traffic passing over newly spread salt and crushing it speeds this process considerably, sometimes called ‘activating’. Without this additional help, it is possible for salt to lay on a surface and ice form around or on top of it.

Where salt has dissolved into the water, the chances of encountering layers of are ice far less likely. However, the possibility can never be removed altogether because: 

  • Sub-zero temperatures can reach the lowered freezing point required
  • Salt can fail to dissolve properly owing to lack of traffic to activate it
  • Rainfall during or after the salting process can wash it away before it can take effect

You can read more from Cormac here or watch how the teams decide when and where to salt the roads in Cornwall...


Driving in snow and ice:

Take it slow – with stopping distances 10 times longer, gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving in ice and snow.
  • Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving.
  • Pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
  • Uphill – leave plenty of room or wait until it’s clear so you don’t have to stop part way up. Keep a constant speed and try to avoid having to change gear on the hill.
  • Downhill – slow down before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid braking. Leave as much room as you can to the car in front.
  • If you have to use your brakes, apply them gently.
  • If you drive an Automatic, check the handbook – some have a winter mode or recommend selecting ‘2’ in slippery conditions.
  • If you do get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip.

Read more advice from the AA here, including how to prepare your car for winter driving.

3:53pm 24th November 2017

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