Gritters back in action as Norfolk set for cold snap

Gritters returned to the county's roads last night as Norfolk braced itself for another cold snap, although forecasters predict there will not be an immediate repeat of the wintry weather which wreaked havoc before Christmas.

It was the coldest December in Norfolk since 1879 and, with temperatures regularly below freezing at night, Norfolk County Council's grit crews had a busy month trying to keep Norfolk's roads clear of ice.

They were in action on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the Tuesday bank holiday, but milder weather has meant they have had a reprieve. However, with forecasters predicting more cold weather ahead, the grit teams were out again on New Year's Eve putting down more precautionary salt.

John Birchall, spokesman for Norfolk County Council, said: 'Looking ahead, our forecasters expect two or three cold days, but the risk of snow is limited to flurries in the north and north-east of the county.

'As always, we will make decisions based upon the lunchtime forecasts and evening update.

'Looking further ahead the weather remains on the cold side, so further actions are likely but decisions will be on a day-by-day basis. At the moment there is no repeat of the pre-Christmas weather and snowfall in the forecast, but that is always the possibility in January.'

There are 6,000 miles of road in Norfolk and the three-hour gritting run covers 70 main roads, using more than 285 tonnes of salt and costing more than �37,000, including storage costs at depots. Deliveries of salt had continued up until Christmas Eve and resumed again on Wednesday. Mr Birchall said: 'The thaw over the last few days has allowed salt stocks to be replenished.

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'We have 15,000 tonnes altogether in our salt barns and strategic reserves at Mile Cross and Swaffham.'

Steve Weston, from University of East Anglia-based Weatherquest, said it would be getting colder in the days ahead, but snow showers were not that likely. He said: 'It's a fairly sure bet that from tonight (Saturday) onwards, we are returning to sub zero temperatures and sharp frosts again. It's likely to get down to about -2C (28F) or -3C (27F).

'I don't think we are going to see any more snow for now, but there might be some sleet around Cromer, Sheringham and Happisburgh.'

Make sure you visit www.edp24.co.uk for the latest updates on travel in Norfolk.