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County prepares for chaos as snow warning upgraded to amber
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- Snow warning upgraded to amber, with up to 10cm possible in four hour burst
- Hampshire Police are warning don't drive tomorrow morning
- South West Trains are running a revised reduced service
- Gritters are on standby
- Advice, useful links, pictures and all the news at bournemouthecho.co.uk/snow
- Poole Grammar, Winchelsea, Parkstone Grammar schools closed tomorrow
The Dorset Local Resilience Forum have put out a press release out urging the public to stay safe:
Chief Inspector Nicky Searle of Dorset Police and member of the Local Resilience Forum said: “Multi-agency partners are making preparations for the severe weather and have put in place contingency plans to maximise the level of service that can be provided across the county.
“Local authorities are invoking emergency planning arrangements and the emergency services are sharing resources and enlisting voluntary assistance to ensure vehicles and personnel stand the best chance of reaching those in need.
“We would encourage members of the public to stay safe by following our advice.”
Motorists are being advised not to drive in snow or icy conditions unless it is absolutely necessary.
If motorists have to drive, ensure the vehicle is roadworthy for the conditions – check tyres, windscreen washers and wipers, lights, petrol and oil levels and that the heater works.
Make sure that any snow or ice is cleared from the windscreen and other windows of the vehicle before driving and carry warm clothing, a blanket and a flask containing a hot drink incase your vehicle breaks down or you become stranded.
Members of the public are also being urged to ensure they stay healthy and well during the cold wintry weather. Make sure homes are well heated and check on elderly neighbours and relatives to make sure they are ok.
So, a last look at the forecast before we all go home to prepare for snowpocalypse.
Bournemouth: Snow forecast from about 6am until 2pm, with heavy snow from 9am. After that it's likely to turn to sleet.
Poole: Heavy snow from 7am ish until 11am, when it should turn to sleet.
Ringwood and Verwood: Heavy snow all day
Blandford and Wimborne: Heavy snow from 6am until about 4pm, when it will lighten
Swanage: Heavy snow from 7am until 1pm, when it will tail off and turn to sleet.
West Dorset will have heavy snow from 6am until 2pm then light snow for the rest of the day.
Obviously this is all subject to change. But that's what the forecasts are saying. We'll be updating from about 6am to let you know the latest, unless anything happens before then, of course.
Poole Council have just given us their weather status update.
Simon Legg, Streetscene Manager, Borough of Poole, said: “Our four gritters are currently on standby to treat Poole’s priority road network ahead of tomorrow’s predicted snow.
“During any period of adverse weather our priority remains keeping our main highway network open. We would urge people using footpaths and roads in the borough to take extra care and to keep up to date with weather forecasts.”
• Borough of Poole currently has 1,000 tonnes of salt.
• 58 salt bins are provided in the borough
4:36pm Thu 17 Jan 13
I think that the powers that be are damned if they do and damned if they don't here.
If they DON'T issue warnings, and prepare for potential disruption and then then snow comes, there'll be the usual outcries of "why weren't they prepared" and "why didn't they do something as we ALL knew this weather was coming...."
If they DO issue warnings, and prepare for potential disruption and then then snow doesn't come, there's outcries of "overkill", "utterly ridiculous" and the proverbial "health and safety gone mad".
Isn't it better, given the forecasts from the Met Office and MetGroup, to just err on the side of caution, just for ONE day, and make sure that if it does actually happen then we are all prepared? It's unusual for the South Coast absolutely, but doesn't mean that we should just ignore the possibility.
4:42pm Thu 17 Jan 13
Melanie - there's a difference between issuing a warning and being prepared for an event that might not happen, and simply shutting up shop for the day, hiding indoors! if it were snowing right now, there may be some vindication of said report, and it may be a sensible thing to write tomorrow off as a precaution. However, it's not snowing, and you never know, it may well not. In which case, it's a wasted day.
Which side are you on?
4:23pm Thu 17 Jan 13
Whoever posted the picture of the seafront, that snow was delivered from a completely different weather scenario as the one forecast for tomorrow, in Dec 2010 snow came from the east and a very cold continental landmass not the mild Atlantic ocean. For the whole of that snow event the wind was backed from the land.
Well that's told us.
Some advice from the AA, who have so far today attended 12,500 breakdowns nationwide (at one point 1,900 per hour). By the end of the day, they expects to have attended around 17,000 call-outs, compared to around 9,500 on an average Thursday.
Darron Burness, the AA’s Head of Special Operations, says: “Tomorrow morning’s commute is likely to test man and machine with potentially challenging driving conditions across many areas. If the snow comes in quickly, it will cause problems, particularly drifting snow.
“The weather is a fickle thing – it could be rain one minute and then snow the next – so keep tuned to local radio for the weather and travel updates. If it’s really bad where you are then consider changing your plans and travel later or use alternative means.
“Even if you only have a short journey, as a bare minimum, take warm clothing, de-icer and a fully-charged mobile.”
Got a lovely way with words, hasn't he?
Anyway, it's only two years since this happened:
and we don't recall anyone draining the channel then, eh BarrHumbug?
We realise that there's a lot of you in the comments scoffing at the idea we're going to get any snow - and it's true that whatever snow we get along the coast could be washed away by rain in the afternoon.
However, the school closures so far are those which take children from around Dorset and Hampshire, and they are taking seriously the warnings that travel is likely to be disrupted. Away from the coast heavy snow is expected to cause problems on the roads - and they are roads that a lot of our readers will drive on.
Basically, what I'm saying is, it's not all about Bournemouth itself, okay? :)
Here's what Winchelsea are saying about their closure tomorrow:
The local authority transport service have informed the school that whilst operators may be able to collect children from home and bring them to school, they cannot guarantee that they will be able to collect children from school and deliver them home.
After conducting a thorough assessment of potential risks the Headteacher in consultation with the Governors have decided to close the school to pupils tomorrow; the Local Authority have been informed of our decision.
This decision has been based upon the likelihood and level of risk to pupils given the most accurate information we have available to us at this point in time. We apologise for any inconvenience this decision may cause and hope that you understand that it has been made in order to ensure the health and safety of your child.
Parkstone Grammar has said it will close on Friday.
A message from head teacher Anne Shinwell said: “I am making the unprecedented decision today to inform you that the school will be closed tomorrow. However, for those students taking public examinations tomorrow the school will be open and students should make their way to school if at all possible as the examinations will take place.
“If any student due to take an examination tomorrow cannot make it into school they should leave a message on the school answerphone for Mr Clegg, the Examinations Officer.
“While we are making the decision now to close the school tomorrow, I shall of course apologise if the weather forecast changes overnight and the heavy snowfall which is forecast does not occur! However, we are sure that parents would rather the decision to close was made today rather than being made tomorrow morning after 7am when we have heard from the bus companies, which can lead to confusion and upset.”
And some gritting facts for you, also from DCC:
• There are 30 vehicles in our gritting fleet
• There are 24 gritting routes in the county council area
• On a county-wide gritting run we will treat approximately 680 miles of road, spreading around 80 tonnes of salt
• It takes around two and a half hours to grit the whole of the county's network
• There are 30 operatives and two operational duty managers on 24-hour stand-by to deal with gritting and other highways emergencies every day of the week throughout the holiday period and the whole winter
• The council holds 12,000 tonnes of salt in its depots at the start of each winter season. Supplies are always re-ordered well before the council reaches a base level of 5,000 tonnes
• Current stocks of salt stand at 7500 tonnes
Dorset county council have just sent us this statement:
Drivers are being advised to take extra care if travelling on Dorset’s roads tomorrow morning, when snow is forecast to sweep across the county.
Dorset County Council’s Traffic Control Centre in Dorchester will be manned from midnight tonight to coordinate the winter highways operations.
Gritting teams will be on 24hr standby to carry out pre-salting of the winter network and plough any snow that builds up, so that traffic can keep moving as safely as possible across the county.
Salt stocks are healthy, with additional supplies delivered today. All salt bins across the county are full, allowing borough, town and parish councils to treat roads and footways off the salted network.
Salt bins in strategic locations will be refilled as soon as possible but crews will concentrate on keeping priority roads cleared first.
Gritting teams will be out from midnight treating the priority network ready for sub-zero temperatures. Community routes connecting schools, hospitals and isolated communities were gritted earlier today, and snow ploughs have been fitted to vehicles in preparation for heavy snow tomorrow.
Motorists should take extreme care when travelling, keeping their speed down and maintaining a sufficient distance from the vehicle in front to be able to brake and stop safely. It can take 10 times longer to stop in icy conditions.
The county council will be working hard to make sure front-line services operate as normally as possible.
For more information about road salting, passable roads routes and how the weather is affecting essential services, such as schools, day centres and waste collections go to dorsetforyou.com/winter
3:35pm Thu 17 Jan 13
I hope it does clear as I've got to be in Yeovil by 7.00 am Friday.
The Govt closed one of the best services for drivers that was the Highway Agency's rolling traffic news on DAB. Really useful for us who drive for a living. It was supposed to be privatised but no one bought it. Profit before service again!!
Not the only person we know of who thinks this is all a lot of fuss about nothing
3:30pm Thu 17 Jan 13
This is utterly ridiculous given there is still very good chance that after a short spell of snow in the early hours of tomorrow morning most of the precipitation is likely to rain as rain within 5-10miles of the coast. To start closing closes before the event is crazy!!
@quattrojames Trust me, it will snow. Probably the best event in 20 years i would say.— @WarehamWeather 17 January 2013
Fun fact for the day (seeing as it's appropriate) The largest snowflake ever recorded was 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick. #mahoosive— @WarehamWeather 17 January 2013
The NHS says just sent us a very important reminder that it's not just drivers who need to be careful in snow and ice.
Your readers need to know the following:
1. Stay indoors in snow and ice, unless you really have to go outside. This is especially important for the old and frail.
2. Grit and clear the paths near where you live, if you are fit and capable. (Don’t use water to do this.) You are very unlikely to be sued if anyone slips.
3. Report particularly dangerous ice on paths to the council.
4. If you have to go out, wrap up well.
5. Staying indoors, keep the heating on, and keep wrapped up.
We'll be posting live updates from early tomorrow morning, with a list of school closures here. If you want to add anything, send us pics or ask anything and you're not registered to comment, you can email email@example.com or use the green "send your news" link at the top of the page.
Driving over the next few days? What should you check? What should you carry with you? Here is a good list: http://t.co/t2E76OAA #BePrepared— @AASORT 17 January 2013
Poole Grammar School has announced it will close on Friday because of the forecast.
A letter emailed to parents from head teacher Ian Carter said: “Due to the large numbers of pupils who come by bus and staff who live at some distance to the school I do not want to risk both life and limb nor be in the position that the bus companies tell me at 6am tomorrow that they will not be running buses.
“The school will however be open to public exam candidates who should aim to stay locally to the school tonight particularly those taking the AM exams so they can get into school. PM examinees should attempt to come into school if at all possible, the forecast indicating sleet at that stage, though if it is sustained snow then please do not put your son at risk.
“There are exam board protocols for non-attendance due to weather which require the candidate to take the exam in the summer.
“I apologise if the forecast is wrong but in the circumstances I do not want to take a risk and also to give you some warning as to our intentions.”
Now is probably also a good time to tell you that you can get traffic updates for anywhere in the country using our traffic feed. Just go to our traffic feed and change the location to the area you want. So if you were planning to go somewhere this weekend, you can check the snow-related disruption before you leave.
We should of course give thanks that we don't live in Cardiff, where they're under a red warning, with 30cm expected, blizzard conditions and large snowdrifts.
Here's how Bournemouth's first stores looked in September... they had 1800 tonnes then and estimate they still have 1600, so we're not going to run out this weekend.
2:46pm Thu 17 Jan 13
I'm heading out now to cover myself and my family in grit and foil blankets, you owe it to your loved ones to do the same.
2:43pm Thu 17 Jan 13
So, it's not even snowing yet, and SWT have already slashed their service, and are completely ignoring the few people who might want to join or alight at Beaulieu Road! Very kind of them considering the 4% they've just heaped on the fares!
If you are planning to drive in snow tomorrow, make sure you're prepared. Here's the full advice but here are some things you can do now to help.
With "disruptive snow" forecast for Friday, here are some things you can do today to prepare for driving in bad weather.
- Clean your lights
- Check your tyre tread - the AA recommends 3mm for winter driving and no less than 2mm.
- Clean your windscreen, inside and out, for better visibility
Make sure you have with you:
- a sack or rug to improve tread if you do get stuck
- Warm clothes, blankets, emergency rations and water in case you find yourself in a long jam.
- A shovel to help clear snow from tyres
Bournemouth council has just posted this release:
The salt barn is stocked, the gritters are on standby and contingency plans ready as Bournemouth prepares for the widely anticipated sleet/snow and icy conditions expected in the next 24 hours.
In addition you can find specific details about all of our preparations for keeping safe and warm this winter at www.bournemouth.gov.uk/winter
Council Leader John Beesley said: “Bournemouth is fully prepared for the potential snow and icy conditions forecast. We are monitoring conditions round the clock and will be keeping the public informed of any disruption to our services. Our priorities will be looking after our most vulnerable residents and keeping the main highway routes flowing. We urge everyone to drive safely and to think about checking on any elderly neighbours should snowy conditions occur.”
We're waiting for info from Dorset County Council and our other authorities. We'll post it as it arrives.
Hampsire county council say:
The County Council's salt barns are full with enough salt for 15 days of continuous, round-the-clock salting. 3,000 community salt bins have salt for people to spread on public roads and pavements and around 100 farmers are on standby to assist with clearing roads of snow using snow ploughs if needed. As always during the winter season, salting lorries are ready to salt Priority 1 routes - roads that carry 85% of the county's traffic - when temperatures are set to fall to zero or below. Other routes, including community routes to local primary schools, doctors surgeries and local shops will also be treated.
In Hampshire, an army of farmers is apparently on standby to help clear roads if needed. You can read more about that here.
Decisions about school closures will be made early tomorrow morning although some have already told parents to make their own minds up when they see the weather. We're told that Winchelsea School has decided to close already, according to a parent but we'll check that out.
South West Trains is running a revised service, with only one train an hour between Bournemouth and Weymouth and a two per hour between Bournemouth and London Waterloo.
There will be no trains stopping at Beaulieu Road and a revised service between Lymington and Brockenhurst.
You can see the full revised timetable here
Hampshire Police are warning people not to travel in the morning. Their warning says: "The bulk of the snowfall is anticipated between 4am and 1pm, with the potential to seriously disrupt rush hour traffic
"With as much as 10cms of snow anticipated across the whole county, and four to eight centimetres on the Isle of Wight, there is potential for drifting to occur because of forecast strong winds.
"Chief Inspector Gary Cooper, from Hampshire Constabulary’s Critical Incident Cadre, said: “Our advice at this stage is if you can avoid travelling on the roads tomorrow morning, please do.
“Keep journeys to only those that are absolutely necessary - at all costs we want to avoid a repeat of traffic chaos we have had during snow in previous years.
“Those that have the flexibility in their job to work from home - tomorrow would be a very good day to do so."
Bournemouth and Purbeck are still under a yellow warning of snow, wth 2-5cm possible. The heaviest burst will be mid-morning, with some forecasts suggesting the snow will turn to sleet in the afternoon.
Poole and the rest of the county is now under an amber warning, with 5-10cm expected fairly widely.
Snowfall is expected from 3am tomorrow, with the heaviest burst coming between 9am and 12pm.
Afternoon. We've got information coming in left right and centre, so we thought this might be the best way to keep you informed.