After a relatively mild spell of weather, and a forecast for snow in other parts of the country, temperatures look set to drop in Hampshire. The County Council is reassuring people that it is ready to keep Hampshire moving and help those people in need, as appropriate, particularly those who are vulnerable and the elderly.
Councillor Ken Thornber, Leader of Hampshire County Council said:
"While we are expecting it to get much colder across the county, according to the forecasts that we receive, the chances of snow in Hampshire are slim and sleet is more likely. We are fully prepared however, and ready to keep the county moving in the event of snow fall and freezing conditions. Our salt barns are well stocked with enough salt for 15 days continuous round-the-clock salting, 3,000 community salt bins have salt in them for people to deposit salt on public roads and pavements. Additionally around 100 farmers are ready to assist with clearing the roads of snow using snow ploughs if needed. As always during the winter season, salting lorries are on stand-by ready to salt Priority 1 routes when temperatures are set to fall to zero or below. These are the roads that carry 85% of the county's traffic.
"It should be remembered that the ground is still very wet due to the significant amount of rain we have had during the winter season so far. Water run-off from fields and high ground has the potential to wash away the salt being spread by the salting lorries, so it is possible that rural roads will ice over if the temperatures do drop. To minimise this, salt wicks (porous bags filled with salt) have been placed at known locations along the highway to maintain a salinity level in the flowing water to try and help prevent it from freezing on the road surface.
"Persistent sleet could cause already high water levels in rivers and streams to rise further and, if this happens, there is a possibility of water spilling on to roads which would also diminish the efficacy of any salting. Bear in mind that water levels in fords may also be affected so I would urge people to heed any warning signs that are placed on the highway. Do not attempt to use fords and be extra careful if you have to go through any road surface water as it is usually very difficult to judge its depth.
"During severe weather events our Emergency Planning Unit coordinates the Council's response, working closely around the clock with the emergency services, district councils and other partners such as the Environment Agency to coordinate multi-agency efforts and ensure communities are able to access the support they need to help themselves, whether it is setting up a rest centre or targeted support for the most vulnerable. This includes calling on over a hundred 4x4 volunteer drivers, who have been recruited by the Police and trained by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, to be ready to transport key staff and resources to wherever they are needed whether that means getting them to hospital, the workplace to keep vital services running, or helping to deliver meals on wheels.
"We would also ask people to keep a neighbourly eye on older and vulnerable people that may live near to them. This is especially important in rural communities where not everyone has access to mains gas and communications can be affected. Anyone that has a concern about a neighbour can call 0845 603 5630. Cold weather not only makes life uncomfortable but can lead to serious health problems including asthma, depression, heart disease and strokes. People who are struggling to keep warm or to pay their bills can get immediate and practical help and advice by calling the 'Hitting the Colds Spots' freephone advice line (0800 804 8601).
"If we do get snow and parents with school age children want to check that their school is open as usual, they can look it up on the school closures page on our website."