It was mild and dry but the gritters rolled out of depots early on Saturday morning – all to test West Sussex Highways’ winter readiness.
Operation Snowflake, the annual practice run prepares the county council to keep safe main roads and approaches to hospitals, schools/colleges and busy bus routes.
A West Sussex Highways spokesperson said: “Saturday’s practice run went well and we’re now ready if severe weather hits.
“Drivers from contractor Balfour Beatty Living Places check the gritters and equipment are in good working order and it is an opportunity to familiarise themselves again with the routes.
“They also note any problems, such as overgrown hedges, that need attention ahead of severe weather later in the year, and see if there are ways to make the runs more efficient.”
How the decision to grit roads is made
Every day around noon a 24-hour weather forecast for each area is received, together with road temperature sensor data.
This information is used to help decide which of the following is required:
- Action: Gritting on any of the three forecast areas.
- No action: Temperatures show there is no need for gritters to go out.
- Delayed decision: The decision to act will be made when another forecast is received at 5pm.
West Sussex is divided into three forecast areas to reflect the diverse weather conditions often experienced across the county.
- Coastal area: Bognor Regis, Worthing, Shoreham, Littlehampton, Chichester
- Inland: Horsham, Crawley, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, Storrington
- Fernhurst: Midhurst, Fernhurst, Petworth
Road temperatures vary greatly across West Sussex, especially between the different forecast areas.
This is why the different decisions about each area are made and why they may be treated at different times.