Warning of possible travel disruption as heavy snow forecast for parts Devon

Devon County Council is warning of the potential for travel disruption in parts of the county this afternoon (Thursday 31 January) and into tomorrow morning.

A band of rain and sleet is forecast to hit Devon from midday which could fall as snow from around 3pm today.

Snow response plans for Haldon/Telegraph Hill and the North Devon Link Road are being activated from midday.

Although the amount of snow is expected to vary across the county, areas of high ground could see up to 10cm of snow over a five-hour period.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning for snow this afternoon.

The County Council was gritting its main routes again this morning and is warning people who may need to travel home via high ground routes to ensure they leave in plenty of time.

Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Police and Highways England are establishing the forward control point at Haldon and Telegraph Hill, with spotters in place to monitor conditions. Gritters and ploughs are on location and on standby to respond to any deterioration in conditions.

Extra tractors and ploughs are also being located on the North Devon Link Road between Bolham Roundabout and South Molton to enable continuous gritting.

The authority is also preparing to carry out snow clearance tomorrow should any rural communities be cut off overnight.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “Not all of the county will see snow this afternoon, and the south of the county is less at risk than other parts of Devon. But where we do see snow, if it does fall as forecast, then people could have difficulty travelling this afternoon, particularly if their route takes them over higher ground. The biggest risk will be between 3pm and 8pm, but there could be some showers beyond that which could potentially leave communities cut off tomorrow. We would urge everyone to plan their journey home and please take extra, however you’re travelling.”

Highways England’s gritting teams are also working around the clock to treat major trunk roads and keep them free from disruption.

Chris Regan, Highways England’s Head of Service Delivery in the South West, said: “Gritters are out treating our routes around the clock but it is still important to drive to the conditions when snow is forecast. If you need to travel in the afternoon, make sure you keep your distance and reduce your speed because, even in conditions that seem normal and the snow is not settling, it can be slippery if ice patches have formed, or where fresh salt has not been worked into the carriageway.

“Drivers should plan their journeys, monitor weather reports and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel if they really need to travel.  We would however encourage drivers across the region to think about how they might return home this afternoon before the snow affects their journey.”

Chief Inspector Adrian Leisk, Head of Roads Policing for the Alliance, said: “We are aware of the upgraded weather warning for this afternoon and tomorrow, which is an amber warning for snow encompassing parts of Devon. It is vitally important that the public take these warnings serious. It is in place from 2pm today meaning that it will impact rush hour traffic, therefore we advise that people give serious consideration to their journey home from work and the school runs; we recommend that people do not travel unless essential.

“The biggest reoccurring error that we see from road users is that during times of severe weather, they do not alter their driving habits. Please can all road users reduce their speed, give extra breaking distance between them and the vehicle in front, and if you must travel, leave both extra time for your journey and prepare for the worst – ensure you have a full tank, food and water in the vehicle, shovel and stop signs, a full charged phone and warm clothing; all the things to prepare you in-case of a breakdown.”

You can keep up to date with any school closures at https://new.devon.gov.uk/schools/closure/

Devon County Council is reminding people 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;
  • Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long-term illness or are 65 or over. The NHS website has more information on staying healthy during cold weather;
  • Listen to local radio for updates on current weather conditions and ensure you have food and essential medications;
  • Check out any school closures and sign up for alerts for any school by clicking on ‘Alert Me’.

Highways England is advising drivers to pay attention to messages on the overhead electronic signs and listen for radio updates. Further information can be found by visiting http://www.highways.gov.uk/traffic or by following @highwaysSWEST on Twitter.

For more information and travel advice from Devon County Council visit: www.devon.gov.uk/winter_travel or for updates on Twitter follow @DevonAlert