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Further traffic and travel disruption expected in Somerset as snow freezes

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: January 19, 2013

  • The M5 was down to two lanes near Taunton yesterday morning

  • The A303 was closed by police at Southfields Roundabout, Ilminster, yesterday

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Gritters are out treating roads across Somerset as drivers are warned to expect icy and freezing conditions over the next 24 hours.

Somerset County Council's fleet of gritters worked throughout the night and yesterday to keep as many of the county's roads open as snow crippled the region's transport network.

Slight snowfall is forecast today but, with freezing temperatures also expected, the Met Office is warning motorists that frozen snow and slush will make conditions treacherous.

Met Office director of government services Phil Evans said: "Based on the forecasts and warnings from the Met Office, local councils, emergency services and highways authorities have been working around the clock to minimise the impacts of the heavy snow.

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"For example, highways authorities have deployed gritters and snow clearing equipment across the road network, Heathrow airport has activated its snow plan to minimise disruption to passengers and Age UK have had volunteers out helping older people across the country."

The Met Office has a severe weather warning of ice in place until 11am on Sunday morning.

Chief forecaster Frank Saunders said: "Although some further slight snowfalls are likely, with 1cm to 2 cm of fresh snow in a few places, the focus switches to ice, with temperatures staying below zero over snow cover for many areas.

"The public should be aware of the risk of localised disruption to transport during this spell of wintry weather."

Steve Crosthwaite, head of the Highways Agency's National Traffic Operations Centre, said: "We advise drivers to check road conditions and the Met Office weather forecast before they set off and during severe weather to consider whether their journey is essential.

"They may want to delay their travel until conditions improve and to allow our winter fleet the chance to treat the roads.

"Our traffic officers are working round the clock to monitor the network, deal with any incidents and keep traffic moving."

The A303 at Southfields Roundabout near Ilminster and the A361 between Shepton Mallet and Frome were two main roads closed yesterday morning due to the snow.

The county council said there were also major issues at Roundham Hill at Crewkerne, Shipham Hill at Cheddar and all high ground on Exmoor - particularly the A39 at Porlock Hill, which was also closed.

South West Trains and bus operator First also have reduced services running on their Somerset services today.

Click here to see the latest weather forecast in Somerset.

Click here to visit the Met Office website.

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