Snow gives way to early winter sun

SNOW that blanketed parts of the North-East will give way to cold, sunny weather today.

But the crisp start to the weekend will turn mild and dank tonight, and tomorrow rainclouds will cover almost the entire UK.

The first cold snap of the season saw snow fall across the region overnight into this morning.

But the rain, sleet and hail showers running down the east side of the UK will clear into the North Sea today as winds come from the west.

Victoria Kettley, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "We can't rule out more wintry showers - these might fall as snow very locally on high ground like the North York Moors, but will generally be sleet, rain or hail.

"Temperatures will be between about 7C and 10C, and in central Scotland overnight tonight won't get above 4C or 5C.

"This afternoon rain will push into north-west Scotland, and the rest of UK will be dry and cold, with sunny spells. It will be cold across north-west Scotland and rain pushing in afternoon."

Milder air and rain overnight will bring rain to much of the UK tomorrow, Ms Kettley said.

With winter on our doorsteps the Local Government Association (LGA) said that hundreds of gritters were on standby to treat roads as required.

An LGA survey of councils across England and Wales found there is currently about 1.3 million tonnes of salt in council depots - enough to fill more than 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This is about twice as much as was used during last winter.

A spokesman said: "Councils have invested in new fleets of GPS-tracked gritting trucks, mini-gritters and specialist vehicles for narrow and hilly streets.

"Thousands of grit bins have been placed in estates and side streets, residents have been given their own bags of salt along with salt spreaders in some neighbourhoods, and arrangements have been made with parish councils, farmers and community groups to grit hard-to-reach areas."

Council websites will be updated with the latest information on weather, gritting routes, school closures and bin collections, special gritter Twitter feeds and Facebook pages have been set up, and leaflets have been sent out advising residents on winter services, how to drive safely in snow and dispelling the health and safety myths about clearing pavements.

Key findings from the survey, carried out this month, include: :: Councils currently have an estimated 1.3 million tonnes of salt in stock - the same amount as this time last year and nearly twice the estimated 700,000 tonnes used last winter.

:: One fifth (20%) of councils have more salt than last year, and 69% the same. Almost all (97%) have all the supplies they ordered.

:: Equipment - Over the past year, 39% have bought new gritters, 27% new mini-gritters and 17% other equipment such as ploughs, footway gritters, tractors, snow-blowers and quad bikes.

:: Working with communities - 59% of councils will be supplying salt and equipment to parish councils, community groups or snow wardens, and 35% are working with local farmers and 4x4 owners to help in the effort. Almost four fifths of councils (76%) will be placing community grit bins for residents to use on side streets.

:: Communication - 78% of councils will be providing live updates to residents on weather, gritting activity and services. Almost all of these (98%) will have a dedicated resource on their website, 76% will be using a Twitter feed and 33% a Facebook page.

Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board, said: "Whatever this winter throws at us, motorists and residents can count on council highways teams being well prepared to keep roads safe and traffic moving. They've got brand new gritters which use salt more effectively, the latest technology in snow ploughs and special quad-bikes and 4x4s to grit narrow or hilly roads.

:: The LGA's research and information team conducted an online survey of all highways authorities in England and Wales who carry out winter weather gritting activities (all councils except districts). Fieldwork took place between September 24 and October 15 with a response rate of 62% (108 respondents).

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