Deep snow and sub-zero temperatures across parts of North Yorkshire in recent days created treacherous conditions for highways teams working round the clock.
With icy conditions, sleet and snow set to continue later this week and some areas expected to see sub-zero temperatures prevail into this weekend and beyond, North Yorkshire County Council continues to run its winter highways service at full throttle.
Gritting crews have been on hand to treat the roads, with some runs starting at 4am, and road users were urged to take extra care and only make essential journeys.
Strong winds blew snow back onto the roads in some places, and road and air temperatures reached as low as -8ºC causing widespread ice.
Terry Wood, Advanced Nurse Practitioner in the Emergency Department at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, thanked the gritting teams for enabling him a safe journey to work from his home in Wensleydale.
He said: “My main route via the B6255 Newby Head was completely clear on Monday and had been thoroughly gritted. I expected problems after temperatures of -6ºC overnight but was pleasantly surprised. Well done and thank you.”
Antonia Channer also praised the gritters for treating the roads between Husthwaite and Coxwold and helping her out when her car slipped on the ice and collided with a bus.
“The gentlemen helped grit the road to get my car out and were really kind and supportive as I was quite shaken after the accident,” said Antonia.
“Thankfully no one was hurt and the damage to my car was minor but I was grateful to have their help. They did a fantastic job and advised me the best route home to avoid the worst of the ice.”
Karl Battersby, Corporate Director of Business and Environmental Services, said: “I would like to thank residents for their cooperation while we did our best to tackle the hazardous conditions.
“Our gritting teams are well prepared to tackle wintry weather on the county’s 5,800 miles of roads. The £7m winter maintenance budget sees 54% of the roads gritted on one of England’s largest and in places most remote road networks.
“With traffic flow much lower due to lockdown restrictions, salt had a limited effect and it took longer for conditions to improve. As vehicles drive over the salt on the roads, this is what helps clear further snow from the surface. This made it an even tougher task for our teams but they worked tirelessly and deserve recognition.”
Gritters are on call 24 hours a day, farmer contractors, duty managers and overnight patrols are all on standby when necessary.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, added: “We have a robust winter gritting service and do our best to keep the county moving. The safety of our residents is the top priority, so please be assured that our gritting teams are working around the clock to respond to poor conditions.
“We are urging drivers to be aware that although most of the snow has disappeared, ice will continue to cause hazards on the roads. Please drive with caution and allow extra time for your essential journeys.”
The County Council uses the latest weather forecasting technology in planning its gritting operations. This includes ice prediction weather stations, a 24-hour weather forecast and road temperature sensor data.