Alert to drivers as wintry weather sets in

With the first taste of ‘real’ winter being forecast for the next few days, Norfolk County Council’s salt stocks for treating roads are a healthy 15,000 tonnes – enough for up to 50 standard gritting runs.

So far this winter a see-saw pattern of often windy weather has kept the number of gritting runs down, with only 20 by mid January. Last winter (2013-14) was even milder – but forecasters now expect cold weather to set in over the weekend and through much of next week, with a risk of sleet and snow showers.

Nick Tupper, Norfolk County Council’s Highways Maintenance Manager, said drivers could well find themselves facing road conditions they had not encountered for nearly two years. He urged them to allow more time and take extra care.

“Even roads on the treated network can become icy. We try to get out early and have the roads salted before they can freeze, but weather conditions can make the timing of gritting runs very difficult. It’s pointless to put down salt during heavy rain, but roads can freeze quickly when skies clear. If gritters go out as soon as the rain stops, it will take up to three hours to complete the run.

“There’s always the chance that run-off from fields will freeze, even on treated roads, and of course many minor roads – over 60% of the network in fact – are not on the priority gritting routes. During cold snaps there’s always the chance that a shady corner will stay icy, and wet roads can quickly turn to black ice in the evening.

“It’s also a myth that snow won’t settle on treated roads. Heavy snow falling on a salted road causes a rapid drop in road surface temperature. Salt then becomes less effective at melting the snow and ice, so even treated roads can become snow covered. In time treated roads will clear down to the asphalt again, but it often takes the action of traffic – especially heavy vehicles – to speed up the process.”

The gritters have already been out tonight on all county gritting routes (you can find out which roads are on our gritting routes here) and will go out again at 4am and tomorrow afternoon.

Norfolk County Council gritting key facts 2014/15

• Total length of county highway network: 5,965
• Length of priority (1&2) gritting routes: 2,083 (37%)
• Number of gritting routes: 48
• Time taken for full treatment: 3 hours
• Average cost per action: £40,000 (including fixed costs).

• The Highways Agency treats the A11, A12, A47 trunk roads (143 miles)

In prolonged severe wintry weather, priority 3 roads are treated as resources allow. In snow, the council can call upon 90 farmers to snow plough local roads.

In addition there are over 1,800 grit bins around the county that have been filled by the County Council.

Salt supply
Norfolk County Council has a long-term contract with Salt Union to supply salt and maintain supplies above a minimum level.

At the start of the season the stocks in Norfolk are 17,180 tonnes, held in seven salt domes and one 5,000 tonne strategic reserve (Swaffham). This is sufficient for over 50 actions (at 15 grammes per square metre). There is a further 3,000 reserve held at Ellesmere Port, Lancs.

Salt Union are under contract to maintain the in-county stocks above a minimum level of 7,665 tonnes – about 24 actions.

Last winter
The 2013/14 winter was exceptionally mild but the wettest for over 100 years.  There were 65 gritting actions, using 15,679 tonnes of salt. The total cost (including fixed costs) was £3.5m. The average cost per action was almost £54,000.

The severe 2012/13 winter
In contrast, 2012/13 was a record winter for gritting actions. There were 159 altogether, using over 41,000 tonnes of salt between 27 October and 4 April.

Winter Wonderland Walks

Originally posted on Explore Norfolk Trails:

This winter season, we have picked out 12 of our favourite wintery walks – from 1 mile to 7.5 miles – to keep you active and enjoying our Norfolk Trails. There’s woodland walks, riverside rambles, clifftop and seafront strolls, history-themed hikes and marshland meanders.

For longer walks visit our website for Long Distance Trails and the Interactive Map.

Clicking on each walk title will take you to a map of the walk.

Clifftop and Seafront Strolls

To kick off our Winter Walks series is a very special stretch of coast, from Cromer to Sea Palling recently opened to the public as a new section of the Norfolk Coast Path (which makes up part of the England Coast Path).

Here are two short linear walks across clifftops and along sandy beaches. There’s nothing like wrapping up against the wind and breathing in the fresh sea air!

Happisburgh to Cart Gap

View original 1,771 more words

Weather warning issued for gales overnight

The Met Office has issued a weather warning for gales from just after midnight until 9am tomorrow (Friday).

Our local weather forecast for Norfolk suggests that gusts of up to 55mph are possible along the coast, slightly less ferocious inland but still strong. We’re also expecting heavy rain, particularly in the early hours of Friday morning, so it really will be quite horrible out there.

If you’re making a journey overnight and tomorrow morning, be aware that your journey could be disrupted, for example by fallen branches or standing water and spray on the roads. Put yourself under less pressure by allowing more time to get to your destination if possible.

Obviously this situation could change so do keep an eye on the Met Office website and listen to local radio stations. The weather should calm down a bit after 9am tomorrow and it looks like a day of sunshine and showers.

Stay safe tonight and batten down those hatches.

Swap your old slippers for a lovely new pair

Do you know an older person in the Wymondam, Diss and Great Yarmouth areas who might find winter particularly difficult and is at risk of having a fall? If so, please tell them about these upcoming events where they can get a brand new pair of slip-resistant slippers for free and find out about other support and advice to help keep them warm and well.

Hard on the heels of previous successful events in the county, selected Norfolk County Council libraries are hosting more Slipper Swaps – where older people can trade their old slippers for a new pair. The events are being organised in partnership with Norfolk County Council Public Health’s Healthy Communities team.

Falls are the most frequent and serious type of accident in people aged 65 and over. Falls are also the main cause of disability and the leading cause of death from injury among people aged over 75 and cost Norfolk an estimated £19 million every year.

The Slipper Swaps will be taking place at three libraries on the following dates:

Wednesday 17 December_KW37304_NCC_Slippers_121014_028_SM
10am – 12pm
Wymondham Library
Back Lane
Wymondham
NR18 0QB

Friday 19 December
10am – 12pm
Diss Library
Church Street
Diss
IP22 4DD

Thursday 8 January
10am – 12pm
Great Yarmouth Library
Tolhouse Street
Great Yarmouth
NR30 2SH 

While waiting for slippers to be fitted, visitors can pick up free room thermometers and information leaflets from the countywide Warm and Well campaign and learn about falls prevention. The events are a chance to find out about free services like NHS Health Checks and Norfolk’s one-to-one Health Trainer service, and how to become a Dementia Friend. 

For those who don’t live locally to these events or can’t get along on the day, there’s still lots of information available to help older and more vulnerable people through the winter. The County Council’s Warm and Well launched today and has support and advice covering personal health, home heating, energy saving and insulation, and financial grants. Find out more at: www.norfolk.gov.uk/warmandwell or call 0344 800 8020.

Help police prevent drink drive incidents this festive season

Do you know someone who risks their life, and the lives of others, by getting behind the wheel of a car while over the drink drive limit?

This year Norfolk Police are supporting a national Crimestoppers campaign which urges people who know someone who regularly drink drives to give information anonymously. You can do this via Crimestoppers but if someone is about to commit an offence then call police on 999 so officers can be dispatched to the scene immediately.

Police in Norfolk and Suffolk have also launched their Christmas crackdown, which will involve carrying out extra patrols and breathalysing any driver who is stopped through concern over their manner of driving, a vehicle defect or involved in a collision. Last year 5,547, drivers were tested across both counties with 204 testing positive – a relatively small but nonetheless significant number.

For more information on the Crimestoppers campaign or the Christmas crackdown, visit Norfolk Constabulary’s website.

From Black Friday to a weekend warmer

While it’s been knocking around for a few years, Black Friday became a bit of a phenomenon in 2014, with retailers enticing us to spend by offering significant discounts. Many shops are extending their promotions over the weekend and if you’re planning a shopping trip into Norwich this weekend, can we recommend a couple of activities for your consideration? They’re not your traditional bargains although hopefully you’ll think they’re money well spent.

First up, families, history buffs and fans of the brilliant author and illustrator Michael Michael Foreman War GameForeman need to know about Christmas in the Trenches at Norwich Castle tomorrow (Saturday, 29 November). Free with admission into the museum, this First World War day is inspired by the Christmas truce of 1914. Michael Foreman, who wrote and illustrated the classic children’s book War Game about the famous Christmas truce and football match in no man’s land, will be there in person to give a talk about his work at 2pm, and will be signing copies of his books afterwards. Michael grew up just over the Suffolk border in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, so this even is almost a homecoming for him. As well as this, there’ll be carols, talks, a family trail and the chance to take part in a giant commemorative art project, and of course you can have a look around the museum’s exhibitions and displays too. Drop in any time between 10.30am and 4pm.

Our second activity is a request – to buy a book for a child in care in Norfolk that will be given to them for Christmas. You can do this by visiting Waterstones on Castle Street in the city, in the children’s book section is a little wooden tree decorated with dozens of tags, each of them with a request for a book from a child who is currently in care in Norfolk – some will be for a specific book, others for a type of book or something by their favourite author.

This is such a wonderful thing to support – if you have your own children it’s a lovely thing to do as a family too. People are always so generous (this is the ninth year the council’s teamed up with Waterstones to do this) and we hope this year is no exception. Just pop into the store during its normal opening hours before the end of Sunday, 9 December to buy a book from the Giving Tree – the reason for this deadline is to make sure the books can be wrapped and delivered in time for Christmas.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, and wherever you’re doing it, we hope it’s a good one for you.

Norfolk Winter is coming – and the Norfolk Winter blog is back!

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You know winter is near when the Norfolk Winter blog gets going again!

Hope everyone’s had a good year. We’ve had a pretty mild autumn so far but a couple of chilly mornings this week – which is when this picture of some frosty leaves was taken – has really brought it home that properly cold weather, and everything that goes with it, is becoming a distinct possibility.

As ever, we’ll be updating the blog with information and advice that will help you stay happy, healthy and safe in Norfolk through the winter. From today, we’ll be posting daily gritting and weather updates on our Norfolk Facebook page and on Twitter, using the #NorfolkWinter hashtag. So far this autumn the gritters have only been out three times, twice earlier this week. Temperatures have recovered since then but our expert weather forecasts are currently predicting that it will get colder again in the second half of next week.

You can help us get the word out, and ultimately help other people in Norfolk get through the winter, by sharing these updates and posting your own on social media – remember to use #NorfolkWinter on Twitter so that people can easily find all relevant information. The idea is to create an online Norfolk Winter community where people can get up-to-the-minute local information. Local weather and travel updates, wintry photos of Norfolk and information on the support that’s available – bung it all up please.

Winter can be a really tough time of year for everyone, usually even more so if you’re older, have a long-term health problem or are on a low income. Norfolk Winter won’t magically make this all better but we do really believe it can help people cope by collating all useful information in one place and hopefully making people realise that we’re all trying to do what we can to help each other through.

We’ve got some nice blog posts coming up and if you don’t want to miss any of them, can we recommend signing up to receive an email every time there’s one added? You can do via the side bar of this blog on the home page of the Norfolk Winter blog – eyes right!

Thanks very much for reading and in advance for your help in making winter a little easier for everyone.