Icy blasts have been few and far between this winter – but at a storage unit in Blackpool, a team of gritters is well prepared for any big freeze.
Piled high at Layton Depot in Plymouth Road is a mountain of rock salt ready for anything Mother Nature may throw at the Fylde coast.
More than 1,200 tonnes of grit, gathered from a salt mine in Cheshire, is Blackpool Council’s back-up in case temperatures plummet this Christmas.
Jez Evans, operations street scene manager for Blackpool Council, said his team of four drivers plays a key role in preventing dangerous conditions for motorists.
He said: “The worst time for us is when we get heavy snow and a period of stillness, where it thaws, freezes, thaws, freezes.
“If it gets like that operations can be difficult and affect our ability to get to hilly streets.
“But we always do our best to cover as many roads as possible, with staff on call throughout Christmas and the new year.”
This year’s large supply of rock salt has built up after several mild winters and to meet Government guidelines, following bad weather in 2011 which left some parts of the country without grit.
He added: “We’ve got enough grit here to last 12 days. We can treat the roads every three hours – around 90 tonnes a day.
“So far, it has been a very mild winter and coupled with last year’s mild winter we have a large supply of grit.
“We’ve been out three times this year – compare that with 34 in 2010/11 and 37 in 2011/12.”
Staff load up four gritting vehicles with rock salt and a brine mix, then drive across their route, spreading the mixtures across the road surfaces behind them.
Mr Evans said the roads team regularly checks with the Met Office for any sub-zero forecasts – but mild temperatures are set to stay.
Dan Williams of the Met Office added: “By Thursday we have 12 degrees forecast and a night time temperature of nine degrees.
“It will be slightly cooler on Friday but there is no real chance of snow.
“Longer term it is likely to be a period of unsettled weather, with wind and rain, but we expect nothing to significantly change.”