GRITTERS have been hitting Hampshire's roads today ahead of forecasts of snowy and icy weather this week.

Hampshire County Council's highways crews will be going out on a second salting run from 7pm this evening (January 29) and may go out on a third if conditions dictate.

However, the current intention is to target ‘priority one’ routes which cover approximately one third of the county road network and carry the majority of Hampshire’s traffic.

These cover A roads, some B roads, major bus routes, roads to hospitals and other key emergency hubs, large schools and colleges, areas of high traffic, and public transport interchanges.

During periods of prolonged severe weather, ‘priority two’ routes, which include remaining B roads and single access roads to villages, may also be treated.

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Across Hampshire there are more than 3,000 blue or yellow bins filled with salt and/or grit for use by the community on public roads and pavements.

For more information about where these grit bins are, how to get them topped up, or how to report a damaged or missing grit bin can be found on the council's website.

Since the start of 2019, the county council’s winter fleet has spread approximately 3,450 tonnes of salt to treat more than 40,000 miles of road, almost as far as driving twice around the Earth.

Councillor Rob Humby, executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said: “Hampshire Highways teams are on 24-hour standby, seven days a week, from October 1 right through until the end of April, to deal with winter conditions and ensure that Hampshire keeps moving, whatever the weather.

“The teams use detailed Hampshire-specific weather forecasts in combination with real time information from electronic roadside weather stations to make decisions about the best time to salt the roads, where to salt and how much salt to use. Forecast road surface and air temperatures, wind speed and direction, rainfall, and ice formation are all important factors in putting the winter fleet to work, which can sometimes be a round-the-clock operation.”

Roads are normally treated with salt before temperatures drop to freezing to try to stop frost and ice forming.