Winter is due to be officially over for Essex County Council gritting crews today.
Gritters were supposed to be stood down on Monday 11 April, but after a mild winter, an unseasonable cold snap meant gritting crews were called for at short notice on the weekend of 16/17 April. They are now on standby until today.
This winter gritting crews were sent out an average of 47 times, with more runs required in the inland areas than near the coasts. Last year, for the winter of 2014-15, the figure was 72.
Up to 58 gritting lorries go out for each separate countywide salting operation. This year they spread some 13,400 tonnes over the 2,000 miles of Essex’s main roads – compared to 18,000 tonnes the year before.
An Essex County Council spokesman, said: “This winter has been relatively mild overall. Temperatures tended to be lower in the west of Essex where we had to treat 57 times this year. Conversely, in the south of the County we had to treat just 34 times.”
Although the process is still referred to as gritting, the gritters are in fact loaded only with salt, either dry or pre-mixed with water as brine which is effective more quickly.
The Highways team uses accurate very local weather forecasting, using nine weather stations around the county and many roadside sensors to decide when and where to salt the highways and how much to spread.
The gritting crews are due to begin again on Monday 24 October 2016.