Widespread freezing conditions could impact Devon’s roads on Christmas Day, while Boxing Day could see the county battered by gale force winds and heavy rain.
Devon County Council is warning that following the recent downpours, tonight’s cold snap could create icy patches tomorrow morning (25 December).
With road surface temperatures expected to drop below -3°C by tomorrow morning, gritting teams will be salting from this afternoon and overnight. Freezing roads are likely to be present in the county from 6pm this evening until 10am tomorrow morning, with any ice that forms, potentially lingering after that.
Storm Bella is expected to hit Devon on Boxing Day, with the Met Office issuing an Amber severe weather warning for strong winds and a Yellow warning for heavy rain from around 6pm until the following morning (Sunday 27 December). Parts of the county could be hit by gusts of up to 80mph which could cause travel disruption.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We have had some atrocious weather conditions in the past few weeks and there is a lot of surface water around and runoff from fields which could potentially become icy on Christmas morning, particularly on untreated routes. However, you have to remember that ice can still form on treated surfaces.
“We would hope that people are keeping it local this Christmas anyway, but even short journeys could be challenging tomorrow morning. And with strong winds forecast on Boxing Day there could be a chance that trees on saturated ground could be blown onto the highway. I would remind people to drive according to conditions and, however you’re travelling, please take extra care and stay safe this Christmas.”
Devon County Council is reminding people of the following advice:
• Only 20% of the county’s roads are treated by gritters but these cover those most trafficked;
• Roads recently flooded are likely to have residual water which may become icy;
• Avoid overnight travel unless absolutely essential as roads will always be more hazardous at night with poorer visibility;
• Be alert to fallen trees and branches, particularly on minor roads where they may not have been reported;
• When the wind is at its peak, consider if your journey is really necessary, and be alert to weather warnings;
• Never drive through floodwater or swollen flowing water, you don’t know how deep it is. Find an alternative route;
• Allow additional time for your journey;
• Reduce your speed and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front;
• Drive with care and according to the conditions.
For more information and travel advice from Devon County Council visit www.devon.gov.uk/winter_travel or for updates on Twitter follow @DevonAlert