WINTER temperatures are forecast to arrive overnight tonight, Friday, November 24 and Devon County Council’s gritting teams are set to be called into action for the first countywide treatment this season.

Road surface temperatures are expected to drop below freezing across the county, reaching as low as -3C in some areas.

Gritters will be out on all of Devon’s main gritting routes from around 7pm tonight.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We’ve been hit by several storms as we head into winter, but we’re now set to see a change in the weather with temperatures falling closer to the levels you’d expect at this time of year.

“Our teams are as prepared as ever, and this evening they will be out for the first countywide treatment this winter.

“It may be a frosty start tomorrow morning and there are still some wet patches on the roads which could very well freeze, so please take extra care if you’re heading out and about over the weekend.

“Last winter was relatively mild overall apart from a few short-lived cold spells and we used around 12,500 tonnes of salt last winter. We have almost twice that amount in stock, as we do at the start of every winter season, so we’re ready for what the elements throw at us.”

This winter, the majority of Devon’s 37 frontline gritters will again be fuelled using sustainably sourced Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), which is a waste product from the food industry.

This fuel produces 90 per cent less CO2 than regular diesel and will contribute towards the County Council’s net zero targets by 2030.

Six of the gritters have been replaced with newer models. These upgraded vehicles feature touchscreen controls to enable drivers to adjust the position of the plough attachments without leaving their cab.

The ongoing trial to salt around 14 miles of Exeter’s busiest cycle routes will continue this winter to support the use of active travel throughout the year.

The Powerflex vehicle which treats the cycle routes was called into action 30 times last winter, helping more than 20,600 cycle journeys to be made on the days when the routes had been treated.

The trial has gained national recognition, with Devon invited to present its findings earlier this year at Cold Comfort 2023, the UK's leading winter service and extreme weather conference.

The National Winter Service Research Group (NWSRG) has also requested to work collaboratively with Devon on the project.

Gritting depots across the county will be stocked with around 24,000 tonnes of salt at the start of the season, and local town and parish councils are being encouraged to report any empty grit bins in their communities.

More than 3,500 grit bins are located across Devon to support community self-help on roads which are not on the gritting network. These supplies must only be used on the public highway. Empty grit bins can be reported via the Council’s “Report It” webpages.

Devon’s Network Operations Control Centre in Exeter monitors the county’s road network 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year using CCTV, weather information, traffic and congestion data.

It also links to the county’s network of 38 ice detector weather stations at strategic locations across the county to check how conditions are affecting local roads. In addition to these weather stations, 20 new weather sensors have recently been installed at various locations around the county to help inform decision making on when roads should be treated. Two of these new sensors are on the cycle route around Exeter to help monitor conditions.

For anyone who would like to find out about Devon’s snow warden scheme visit the County Council’s communities webpages or contact Parish Council representatives who can liaise with their local Neighbourhood Highway Officer.

More information and advice is available on our winter travel webpages or for updates on Twitter(X) follow @DevonAlert and Facebook.