WARNING: Severe weather predicted for Luton area

Weather
Weather

The Met Office has issued a severe cold weather warning affecting the East of England from today until Sunday

Drivers and pedestrians are urged to take extra care as there is a possibility of ice and snow, particularly today (Thursday).

Luton Borough Council states it has worked hard over Christmas and New Year to ensure gritting levels on main roads are consistent, but road users are warned that conditions may still be slippery.

Eight key routes are the priority, and gritting normally takes place outside peak traffic times where possible to keep traffic moving.

Cllr Paul Castleman, portfolio holder for highways, said: “The council is well prepared for winter and has around 1,000 tonnes of salt in stock, enough for at least 66 runs.

“During a cold spell our highways engineers monitor the situation around the clock and treat as many roads as possible when appropriate. But clearly it’s not possible for us to treat every road so we concentrate resources on keeping the busier routes clear.”

The council uses the Icelert computer system and five roadside weather stations to gather data and predict weather conditions and road temperatures. If there is a risk of ice, Luton’s gritting fleet sets out on pre-determined routes to salt 228km of main roads – that’s nearly half of the borough’s entire road network – to help prevent icy patches or snow forming.

Motorists however should never assume that a road has been salted, and always remember that the onus for safe driving rests with you. Reduce your speed, keep your distance and try to anticipate the actions of others. Be prepared and plan your journey times in accordance with the conditions.

Now is a good time for drivers to check tyre tread depths and pressures, antifreeze levels, the condition of wiper blades and batteries, and to top up windscreen washer bottles with screen wash.

In freezing conditions drivers must make sure ice and snow is properly cleared from vehicle windows before setting off. Lights and number plates should be clearly visible, mirrors clear and windows demisted.

The council also provides over 240 salt bins at known trouble spots such as sharp bends, steep hills and difficult junctions.

Anyone can use these supplies to treat local problems on the road and footpaths, although they should not be used for domestic driveways and footpaths. A good handful of salt is usually enough to treat a square metre of icy path. Salt bins are refilled before each winter season and replenished as necessary.

Pavements serving shopping areas and outside some schools are treated by the Council in periods of prolonged snow and ice but pedestrians are reminded that pavements are not routinely salted.

Residents clearing ice and snow on private property or public spaces are advised by the Government to follow the snow code. The advice is to pay extra attention to steps and steep pathways, and use salt (even table or dishwasher salt) to help stop surfaces freezing. If you do not have salt, sand will provide a better grip under foot but do not use water to melt ice or snow as it may refreeze.

Cllr Castleman added: “If snow falls during a rush hour period this has the potential to cause disruption on already congested networks. If the weather conditions are forecast to be severe, consider whether your journey is necessary.”

It is advisable in these conditions to carry a small snow shovel, water and snacks, extra clothing, a blanket and mobile phone.

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Useful links

For more information about Luton’s winter highways maintenance and salting routes go to www.luton.gov.uk/gritting. Keep up to date with our gritting operations on Twitter @lutoncouncil

For more information on safer winter driving, go to www.luton.gov.uk/roadsafety

For further information on the Department for Transport’s snow code, go to www.metoffice.gov.uk and search for ‘snow code’.

Information about school closures which occur due to bad weather will be publicised on the Luton Borough Council website at www.luton.gov.uk

Should there be a need to close any community centres or day centres for safety reasons, users and families will be advised in advance by phone, text and email.

For advice on health and wellbeing, appropriate NHS services and when to dial 999, see ‘Wise up for winter’ at www.eastamb.nhs.uk

For general advice from the Bedfordshire and Luton Local Resilience Forum on keeping warm and healthy around the home, and increasing the ability of your business to cope during severe weather, see ‘Get Ready For Winter’ at www.whatwouldyoudoif.co.uk