Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Wintery weather's on its way...

UPDATE: 14.00 Jan 13th

Passing light snow showers earlier today arrived and departed as expected. Road surface temperatures will continue to fall as the evening proceeds. We expect the stiff breeze to have a drying effect across some routes.

With additional data from road sensors we are now planning an early afternoon/early evening treatment. Times may vary across the County. The forecast for the remainder of the night is indicating the possibility of early morning light snow showers. With this afternoon/evening's treatment we feel there will be sufficient salt on the roads. We will continue to monitor the forecast overnight, however.

We are now returning to standard winter operating procedures as the forecast indicates the high risk of snow has abated for this forecast period.

We thank you for your understanding and support and trust recent communications have been informative.  We have tried to provide you an insight into the challenging role of our winter maintenance team.

Further updates will follow should we become aware of severe weather which may affect our road network. 

UPDATE: 09.00 Jan 13th

All routes were treated last night without reported incident. This morning as expected our main routes were clear. Our winter crews are currently on stand down to ensure they are sufficiently rested. We plan to bring crews back for 10:00 when they will remain in the depot on standby to respond to weather related matters.  As a result there will be very few TfB vehicles seen across the network. Rest assured we have sufficient operational support staff continuing their normal duties. Our front line operation will continue today with skeleton crews focussing on priority highway repairs. This situation is standard practice following snow conditions, irrespective of accumulation amounts.

At this time the forecast indicates a small weather system approaching, travelling north to south across the County. This may deliver light rain, sleet or snow, however, accumulations are not predicted to cause travel issues. Towards the end of the afternoon we expect road surface temperatures to dip below zero. At this time we are considering an afternoon treatment of the network to keep the gritters away from the Friday travel home period. Treatment times may vary across the County.

From this evening onwards we expect to return to our standard winter operational procedures. 

UPDATE: 22.00 Jan 12th

Last snow update of the day:
Our gritters now returning to their depots. Drivers reported road conditions on treated routes are clear. Roads remain wet as a result of the earlier rain and melting snow.

Next treatments are set for 23:00 & 04:00 - these treatments will keep the treated network as safe as possible overnight as temperatures fall sharply on wet roads.


 UPDATE: 18.30 Jan 12th

Our gritters are now returning to their depots having placed an initial treatment across the road network. Our drivers have reported back some settling snow across the county, which we expected. Accumulation and road conditions vary across Buckinghamshire, therefore please be aware, should you be planning to travel this evening. 
We now must wait for the evening traffic to reduce otherwise our gritters will be delayed in any evening congestion. Also, salt distribution becomes ineffective at such slow speeds. We are planning a further treatment at 19:00 which should assist in clearing the network of settled snow. At this time we are preparing further network treatments at 23:00 & 04:00 based on the current forecast. 

Live weather radar available to TfB indicates snow passing through our region 19:30 to 20:00. Exact timing may vary due to wind speed. 

Tomorrow's forecast
At this time the forecast indicates tomorrow as being cold with the risk of ice on untreated roads. Some light snow showers in the morning. We expect there to be sufficient salt on the road from the 04:00 treatment to control snow in contact with the road surface. Accumulations are predicated to be minimal. Road surface temperatures then dip towards late afternoon. At this time we may undertake a midday treatment to again prevent our gritters being delayed in the Friday evening drive home. This would also provide our drivers with the additional rest they deserve.


UPDATE: 12.50pm Jan 12th

Today we are presented with an extremely challenging forecast which indicates possible snow just before rush hour. If we send out the spreaders at this time, they will likely become embroiled in any traffic congestion. This will cause delays not only to road users, but to the salting route completion – spreading is ineffective at low speeds. Our plan, at this stage, is to put winter crews on depot standby from midday. We have to wait to assess rainfall; however, with the forecast at hand, we feel we should attempt to spread salt across the primary (precautionary) network, before 5pm.

Therefore, we may be seen by the public gritting in the rain which, under normal circumstances, we would not usually do in case the rain washed the salt away. The hope is to ensure some salt remains active until our next window of opportunity tonight from 18:00. We then plan a further two treatments (at 20gsm) throughout the night to manage the ice risk across the primary network in time for the morning travel period. At this time we have no plans to treat the secondary routes. Please be prepared for the possibility of travel disruption between 16:00 – 18:00

Salting: 14.00 in the NORTH of the county, 14.30 in the SOUTH. Repeats likely this evening, subject to forecast. 

The first sign of snow may be on the horizon, with forecasters predicting a drop in temperature tomorrow (Thursday) and potential for some sleet or snow. With this in mind, here's an update of our plans...

Every day during the winter our guys are on standby, ready to go out. When we receive a snow forecast, we look at timings and temperatures in order to make the most appropriate plan.

So what is the plan?
This forecast is predicting rain or sleet in the afternoon, which will make the road wet. This means a pre-treatment will be ineffective - if we spread salt on the roads, the rain will simply wash it away. Therefore, we will send the gritters out as soon as the rain or sleet stops, or as soon as it turns to settling snow. This makes for an effective treatment in time for the forecast temperature drop. The decision will be made locally, from each depot in the county, so we can go at the best time!

Once this is complete, we will then look at repeating the treatment, if necessary, according to the most recent forecast.

Things to remember
Forecasts are just that - a best guess with the information available. If conditions differ to the forecast, different action will be taken, as appropriate. We are well equipped to swiftly alter our plans.

Salt is not a cure-all. Roads may still be icy, even if treated, as the salt needs tyre traction in order to be most effective. In instances where the road temperature falls below -8 degrees C, salt becomes ineffective, so it's worth bearing in mind when driving that you may still encounter some icy conditions.

We treat 44% of the county's road network. This is a combination of all A and B roads, links to schools and bus routes, but does not cover all county roads. A map of our gritting routes can be found here. In periods of prolonged severe weather, we have a secondary route around the county which will be additionally treated. We will inform when we treat this secondary network - keep your eyes on Twitter, @tfbalerts. You will also see notifications of all our salting treatments here as well.

Make sure your car is ready - check wipers, and lights are functioning, tyre tread is still ok and that you have washer fluid. We always advise only making essential journeys in periods of snow, but hopefully we won't be buried under mountains of the stuff tomorrow!

Remember your neighbours
We have grit bins stationed at various locations around the county. We don't routinely treat estate roads, so sprinkling a bit of grit from the TfB bins will ensure your roads stay as safe as possible. Take advice from us and go out after the rainfall.

More info to follow as we receive it... stay safe!

Gritters at the ready...!