Call us if you are in danger - Norfolk Police's message to motorists as drivers stranded in drifting snow and impassable roads
PUBLISHED: 19:46 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:23 02 March 2018
Motorists are being warned to only travel if absolutely necessary tonight with gusting winds creating snow drifts and impassable roads, particularly in rural areas.
Drivers stranded in the severe weather conditions are being urged to call police on 101 or 999 if they feel in danger.
It comes after several people had to be rescued after becoming stranded in snowdrifts caused by strong winds in areas across the county.
Police officers working with partner agencies and volunteers have gone to the aid of several motorists stranded in the treacherous conditions.
Norfolk County Council said they will be out gritting and ploughing into this evening and overnight.
But with strong winds, lots of laying snow still hanging around, very cold temperatures overnight and further snow showers possible, travel conditions are not expected to improve greatly by tomorrow morning.
Since midnight, police have received:
• 150 calls relating to highway obstructions
• 19 damage only RTCs
• Three injury RTCs
The continuing tricky conditions have prompted police to reiterate the warning that drivers should only travel if absolutely necessary with anyone intending on travelling being urged to plan ahead and tell others about their journey plans.
Chief Inspector Sonia Humphreys, from Norfolk’s Contact and Control Room, said: “People do seem to be taking heed of the message. However, we’ve attended a number of areas today, particularly in rural locations, where motorists have become stranded.
“Roads in the more rural locations are heavily affected with areas virtually impassable because of ice and snowdrifts.
“The reality is that due to the size and nature of the county, there could be other drivers stuck in remote locations we don’t know about. Equally, people in those locations may not know exactly where they are. However, we would ask that you provide emergency services with as much information as you possibly can about your location to help ensure we are able to find you as soon as possible.”
The weather front from Siberia has caused significant snow fall across the region and, combined with freezing temperatures, is still causing travel chaos today with reports of crashes and snowdrifts blocking roads across the region.
Some of the worst problems have been on the A140 between Norwich and Diss.
It has been closed between Pulham and Long Stratton for most of the day due to large snowdrifts and jack knifed lorries have blocked the road at various places including Dunston.
The road is also shut between Tivetshall and Dickleburgh due to snowdrift.
Police have warned people to stay away from the A149 at Worstead as there are severe snowdrifts and approximately 12 lorries have broken down.
The A47 was closed for an hour at East Winch as a lorry was moved off the road and three lorries got stuck on the A143 at Two Mile Bottom near Thetford due to snowdrifts.
Norfolk Police have this afternoon tweeted that the B1332 Bungay Road into Poringland from the A146 Loddon Road is shut with gritters not even able to get through.
Motorists have been warned to avoid the A1065 at Castle Acre which is impassable.
Meanwhile on the A1065 at Swaffham there is another jack knifed lorry which has blocked the road.
There have also been reports of a jack knifed lorry blocking the road at Spooner Row, near to the Three Boars pub.
Snowdrifts have also been causing problems on the A149 at Heacham, the B1105 in north Norfolk, the A143 at Scole and the A146 between Loddon and Stockton.
In the east of Norfolk the Hemsby to Caister road is blocked due to snowdrifts as is the Hemsby to Ormesby and Martham. Filby Road is virtually impassable with multiple cars stuck and in Belton, Church Lane is blocked by a snow drift between the church and Beccles Road and Beccles Road is blocked between the crossroads and the new roundabout.
Chris Bell, a forecaster with UEA-based Weatherquest, said temperatures would continue to drop tonight, down to about -4C and remain below freezing into tomorrow.
Mr Bell said gusts of wind, some reaching up to 40mph to 45mph in places, would also continue meaning further drifts of snow were likely in places.
He said: “I don’t think we’re going to see much of an improvement.”
There is also the potential for more snow later tomorrow afternoon although not at the levels that blanketed the region earlier in the week.
Mr Bell said temperatures would not start to rise above freezing until the latter part of the weekend or early next week.
It all means travel conditions will remain very difficult,
The county council’s highways teams and local farmers together with other emergency services workers and good samaritans have been out in force trying to keep the roads safe.
More than 100 gritter lorries and tractors have been attempting to clear snow from the county’s roads using snowploughs all day, and the council has also been using excavators to try to remove snow.
Nick Tupper, Norfolk County Council’s asistant director for highways, said: “We’ve had over 100 members of staff in our highways team working alternating 12 hour shifts to try to make roads passable, with tremendous help from our network of farmers with snow ploughs.
“It’s been a real battle though due to the wind, and further complicated by vehicles that have become stuck or abandoned in snow drifts.
“So despite a massive effort from these teams, conditions on many roads are still very difficult and the advice must therefore remain the same as it has been since Wednesday morning – only make a journey if it is absolutely essential and please don’t try to drive through piled up snow or drifts.”
Gritters with snowploughs attached went out again at 3pm and are likely to be working through the evening.
“Further gritting and ploughing is planned in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Farmers with ploughs and excavators have been assisting highways teams on major roads today (largely A and B class roads) to try to keep these clear, it is hoped they will be able to move onto clearing minor routes tomorrow.
Crews from Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service have dealt with more than 30 calls from other agencies since last night, asking for assistance in the current treacherous weather conditions across Norfolk.
The calls from police and ambulance crews come in addition to their usual workload. Incidents include assisting stranded drivers throughout the county and treating emergency patients where ambulance crews are struggling to get to them.
The fire service has been using specialist vehicles, including their 4x4 rural appliances.
Paul Seaman, duty group manager, said: “It’s vitally important that when faced with such unprecedented weather all agencies come together.
I’m confident that we will continue to be able to offer assistance to colleagues and also manage our day to day business.
“All of our non-operational staff have been asked to remote work until the end of the week. Many of our staff have shown great resolve and in some cases worked continuously as a result of not being able to make it home. NFRS will continue to operate our resilience plans until at least Saturday.
“We would urge motorists to heed the current police advice and only travel is if absolutely necessary.”
People can check which roads are on the council’s gritting routes for the 2017/18 season by looking at the map at www.norfolk.gov.uk/gritting. For lots more information about keeping safe and well in winter weather and for updates on any service disruptions, visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/norfolkwinter.
Drivers who need to travel are advised to:
•Plan ahead – check you route on a planner to see the latest traffic updates
•Tell friends or family about your travel plans – inc route – and let them know when you’ve arrived
•Make sure you vehicle is clear of snow/ice, has sufficient fuel and screenwash
•Allow plenty of time for your journey
•Travel at a low speed avoiding sudden braking/steering moves
•Keep a sensible distance between you and the car in front
•Use headlights – do not rely solely on daytime running lights
•If visibility falls below 100m use your fog lights
•Take provisions (blanket, warm clothing, food/water)
•Charge your phone before setting off
•If you get stuck in the snow stay with your car, but in an emergency if you do need to leave it, park it out of the main traffic route, where it won’t cause an obstruction when conditions ease. Leave a contact number on the inside of the windscreen and return to your car at the first opportunity you have.
If anyone feels in danger call 101 or 999 so we can help you.