Lancashire County Council is urging people to carefully consider their travel plans due to snow and icy conditions forecast to hit the county over the weekend.
A period of severe weather is forecast to begin with scattered wintry showers from Friday afternoon, falling as snow over higher roads. This is predicted to continue overnight with some significant accumulations likely and freezing temperatures leading to widespread icy surfaces.
Heavy sleet and snow showers are forecast to hit the county on Saturday, with some very icy conditions later in the day and into the evening as skies clear and temperatures fall further overnight.
Further sleet and wet snow is forecast for Sunday, however this is expected to turn to rain during the evening as conditions become warmer and the risk of ice reduces as temperatures reach above freezing into Monday.
In addition to the snow and ice, strong winds are expected, leading to periodic blizzard conditions in some areas.
Lancashire County Council’s highways teams are gearing up for a very busy weekend with the expectation that gritting crews will be working around the clock to try to keep traffic moving on the main routes.
The conditions forecast mean that all of the council’s resources will need to be dedicated to ploughing and gritting the main routes, which could remain icy even after being gritted due to continuous sleet, snow and possibly freezing rain.
Other roads which have not been treated could be treacherous and people are being asked to consider whether their journey is really necessary before setting out.
The council has already been gritting the further network of second priority roads which are treated during daylight hours in continuous icy conditions, and includes some roads giving access to the main routes, to try to reduce the impact of the ice and snow as much as possible once it arrives.
County Councillor Rupert Swarbrick, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The Met Office has issued a warning for some really severe winter weather to hit Lancashire over the weekend, and the specialised local forecasts we receive for roads indicate conditions will be very difficult.
“Please remember that we have to prioritise which roads we grit, with our focus being on keeping the main routes moving. No council has the resources to grit and clear snow on every road.
“Our highways teams will be doing their best to keep the main routes passable, but there is a limit to the effect that gritting the roads with salt will have during heavy snow, so I would ask people to think very carefully about whether it’s a good idea to try to travel in those conditions.
“The icy conditions over the past week mean that much of the material in our 2,600 roadside grit bins and salt piles has been used up, and our teams have begun refilling them, but have not yet had time to complete this task in every area.
“I know that people in Lancashire always pull together to help each other out as much as they can when we get severe weather like this. I’m grateful for people keeping a check on any friends, relatives and neighbours who may be more vulnerable due to the cold, or may not be able to make an essential trip to the shops or pharmacist due to the icy conditions.
“Please stay safe and if you do need to venture out take care on the roads.”
Lancashire County Council has a fleet of 45 frontline gritters which can treat the 2,500km of the county council’s priority road network within around four hours, but may take longer in severe weather.
Depending on the conditions the county council may activate plans in place with farmers and agricultural contractors to clear snow on roads and provide additional support when resources are stretched.
People who live on or near a gritting route are asked to park considerately and leave room for the gritters to get past, as poor parking often causes problems and can lead to routes not being fully treated.
You can find out more about gritting in Lancashire, including which roads are gritted, and what you can do to prepare at lancashire.gov.uk/winter. You can also get the latest gritting updates and winter weather advice by searching #LancsWinter on Twitter.