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Gritters prepared as snow is set to arrive in Swindon
THE mild weather conditions of the past two weeks are set to give way to freezing temperatures, with a chance of snow forecast over the weekend.
Winter temperatures in 2013 have been mild in the town so far, but the mercury is now expected to plummet towards zero.
The Met Office said yesterday that there was still a lot of uncertainty about how long the cold weather would stay and exactly which areas of the UK will see snow, but predicted there is a potential for snow in Swindon tomorrow.
The reason for the cold weather is that an area of high pressure is developing over Scandinavia, allowing cold air from the Baltic and western Russia to move towards the UK.
At the same time, milder air and Atlantic weather systems are trying to push in from the west, leaving the UK as the battleground where they meet.
Sarah Holland, a Met Office spokeswoman, said: “There is the chance you could see some snow over the weekend, especially on Saturday – there is a yellow warning for both snow and ice on Saturday “Rain could potentially turn to snow as we go through the day and into the afternoon, with daytime maximums on Saturday of 3°C.
“Sunday will be drier and brighter, however it will be colder with temperatures struggling to get much above freezing.”
Swindon’s gritters are on standby throughout the winter to keep key roads free from snow and ice.
A team of seven drivers and gritting lorries, based at the depot of Swindon Commercial Services Ltd (SCS), at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate, are ready at any given time to treat road surfaces.
The council contractor had 4,395 tonnes of salt in reserve at the start of the year and said these stocks should be enough to keep the ice at bay throughout the season on the priority routes.
Helen Viveash, the planning and processing supervisor at SCS, told the Adver earlier in the winter that she was expecting conditions to be more challenging in January or February.
She said: “It’s been a pretty average year this year.
“I have looked at the statistics and we were quite surprised by a couple of particularly cold snaps, but when you look back over the last eight years it’s absolutely average.”
Last winter, SCS spread 1,028 tonnes during 35 trips out, each trip to treat the roads using approximately 35 tonnes of salt. And the council said motorists need not worry about the predicted severe weather as it has a further 1,000 tonnes of salt on provisional order.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Police warned drivers to beware in bad weather.
He said: “Wiltshire may experience some wintry weather over the weekend, but it is unlikely that this will cause any significant driving issues.
“However, it is important to remember to drive in accordance with road conditions at all times and take extra care in wet or icy weather.
“We would advice motorists to monitor weather forecasts and check the Met Office website – www.metoffice.gov.uk – over the coming days.”