Find out about the action we take to make the roads in Northumberland as safe as possible and minimise delays and disruption during severe winter weather.
Request gritting support
When do we grit?
We grit the roads when temperatures are expected to fall to zero or below. Rock salt is spread to lower the freezing point of the surface and it takes about three hours to cover Northumberland. We aim to grit all the routine roads by 8am each day, although gritting becomes less effective the further the temperature drops.
We use specialised weather reports from the Met Office, insight from our road condition sensors, which monitor road temperature, and a wealth of local knowledge to decide on the right time to grit.
Please note: in extreme conditions, like freezing rain, no treatment will prevent ice from forming, although these kinds of conditions are very rare and usually short-lived.
Where do we grit?
We routinely grit a network of 29 main routes to combat overnight frost and ice. We also grit busy footpaths, car parks and shopping areas during persistent icy weather conditions.
Our route is planned so treated roads can be reached within:
- no more than five miles for rural residents
- no more than one mile for urban residents
Principal bus routes and distributor roads with steep approaches to main road junctions are also treated as a priority.
Second priority roads will be gritted when widespread ice is expected to continue through the day and in light snow falls. These roads include:
- access roads to communities where there are no alternative gritted roads
- important bus routes
- urban distributor roads
Not all roads are routinely gritted, and local extreme weather conditions may mean parts of the road network are not treated as normal. Despite our best efforts, even on gritted roads, ice may reform.
You can view our precautionary gritting routes here
or download our ‘Highways in Winter
’ leaflet for more information.
We don’t plough or grit the A1 and A19. Highways England is responsible for those roads – call 0300 1235000 or email email@example.com
Grit bins are available on selected steep hills, verges, sharp bends and near steps, particularly where routine gritting does not happen.
We supply 1,600 bins for the public to use, which we restock as often as possible during the winter. You can use the grit provided to clear snow and ice from pavements around your home, making paths safer and easier to use.
Grit provided should not
be used for treating private property.
Snow clearance on roads
When snow falls in excess of 50mm, with possible drifting, snowploughs attached to gritters will be used. Snowblowers and other specialist machines are also sometimes used.
In severe snow conditions it’s not possible to clear all the roads at once, so we prioritise roads in the following order:
- principal roads - cleared to a minimum two-lane width
- roads into towns and villages - at least one road into each to allow for access to the cleared major roads
- major town centres
Snow clearance on other roads will only take place when the higher priority roads have been cleared, which may take several days.
Snow clearance on footpaths
As resources become available, we also clear the most used footpaths. We have created a footpath network of four categories, based on their usage. Category one footpaths will be cleared first and you can see the various networks on the maps below:
Extra support and information
A snow squad is a group of community volunteers who help clear snow and ice from public footpaths. To find out more, download our leaflet
on forming your own squad. You should also follow the government’s guidelines on clearing snow safely
if you want to clear snow yourself.
View our winter services policy
and find out about resources we have available to tackle severe winter weather.
We plan for extreme weather and are well equipped to deal with most weather conditions. Currently we have:
- 29 serviced multi-purpose gritting vehicles with snow plough attachments
- four reserve vehicles
- five state-of-the-art gully tankers, positioned throughout the county to deal with potential flooding caused by rapid snow melt
- two fitters on 24-hour emergency standby to deal with emergency repairs
- 36,000 tonnes of rock salt in place at 11 depots across the county from the beginning of October – additional salt is ordered if necessary
- more than 1,600 salt bins in areas which are steep, have steps or have difficult junctions
- more than 200 grit heaps in rural areas
When dealing with heavy snowfall, additional support is also provided by farmers or heavy plant contractors in some of the more rural areas.