How Lancashire is coping with Beast from the East
Snow let-up . . . the Beast from the East could bare her Siberian teeth even more over the next three days.
More snow, more ice and a stronger current of freezing air is heading for Lancashire, if the forecasters have got it right.
What a way to herald the arrival of spring.
The county woke up to a blanket of snow yesterday, a yellow weather warning and a temperature around zero for the morning commute.
The mercury was expected to fall to -4C during last night, leaving Lancashire shivering in a wind chill of -10C at breakfast time today.
But tonight looks like being -5C (feeling like -11C) and things look set to stay sub-zero until Saturday or even Sunday.
The Met Office is predicting that another yellow warning for snow could include the North West by Friday in what is proving to be one of the coldest blasts to hit the UK in years.
But for once the south is likely to be affected even more than the north as the worst of Storm Emma arrives from France and Portugal.
The wintry blast caused widespread problems on the roads of Lancashire yesterday, although thankfully there were no really bad smashes caused by snow and ice as drivers took extra care in the worst weather of the winter.
Main roads are being treated by a team of 45 gritter wagons, although only a third of the county’s highways qualify as priority routes.
Rough sleepers on the streets of Preston are being given emergency accommodation to take sanctuary from the killer temperatures.
More than 50 schools closed in Lancashire due to the weather and the number is expected to be high again today.
Health bosses have issued a plea for people to make sure the elderly and vulnerable don’t become victims of the Arctic conditions. No lessons today...Keeping vulnerable people safe...
It’s icy on the roads...
An army of 45 gritters have been out again overnight treating 1,800 miles of Lancashire’s priority roads.
But County Hall chiefs have warned motorists the gritting and salting operation only covers around a third of the road network, so extra care is needed on many minor routes.
Coun Keith Iddon, LCC cabinet member for highways and transport said: “We are well prepared for more severe conditions forecast over the coming week. Our first priority always has been to keep traffic moving on the main routes when severe weather hits. I would ask people to be cautious as roads can be icy even after they’ve been gritted.
“Also be particularly careful on untreated roads and pavements and, if conditions are particularly bad, consider whether your journey is essential.”
Motoring organisation the AA has issued essential advice for drivers using the county’s roads, especially in the morning rush hour when conditions can be at their worst.
Experts say stopping distances can be 10 times as long in snow and ice and drivers are urged to, where possible, stick to main routes which have been gritted.
General advice in the snow and ice is to give at least an extra 10 minutes to prepare the car in a morning before setting out and do not drive off with just a tiny hole cleared on the windscreen.
The AA says: “Put safety before punctuality, allow extra time for journeys and be prepared to be late for work due to unexpected delays.
“Drive as smoothly as possible, with no sharp braking, no hitting the throttle or any sudden steering movements.”
It’s no joke sleeping rough...
At least two dozen rough sleepers in Preston are being given emergency help, with hot meals and a warm bed for the night, during this week’s Arctic blast.
But charity workers say there are still others who are braving the sub-zero conditions rather than take sanctuary in crisis accommodation.
On Monday night one refuge, the Foxton Centre in Avenham, put up 17 homeless people on mattresses, giving them food and a hot drink for supper and a hot breakfast yesterday morning.
Last night was expected to be even busier with more people who usually sleep on the street being driven indoors by the extreme cold.
“We are part of the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol called Winter Watch,” said the Foxton Centre’s chief executive Jeff Marsh.
“We have some wonderful volunteers here who have been going without sleep to make sure rough sleepers are cared for.
“And we’ve had some generous donations of eggs, bacon, sausages and other food for breakfast.
“We pick up most people during the day, but the police and British Transport Police bring others to us during the night who thay are concerned about.
“But we don’t get everyone. There are others out there who stay out.
“Our rule is once you are inn you stay in, so there are those who maybe can’t last until the morning without their booze and so decide against coming inside.”
Helping elderly stay safe
The people of Lancashire are being urged to make sure the elderly and infirm are not forgotten during the cold snap.
County Hall is asking everyone to check on vulnerable members of the community to make sure they are warm enough and have sufficient hot food to eat.
“We’re expecting a bitterly cold week ahead and it’s important that people do what they need to do to stay warm and healthy,” said Coun Shaun Turner, cabinet member for health and wellbeing.
“We will be continuing to visit vulnerable people who already receive support, but we’re asking everyone who is aware of a vulnerable friend, neighbour or family member to check that they are OK and whether they need anything, particularly if they don’t want to venture out during the severe weather.”
Public Health England has advised that homes should be heated to at least 18C and people should wear several thin layers of clothing instead of one thick one.
The NHS in Lancashire and South Cumbria has also issued a cold weather alert for people who suffer from long-term conditions like asthma and circulatory diseases like heart disease that they are at greater risk at this time of year.
Heart attacks increase almost immediately after a cold snap and hospitals also see a rise in admissions of stroke patients five days after the cold weather begins.
A spokesman said there was still time to get a flu jab.
Dr Kieran Murphy, medical diector for Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS, said: “It is important to be mindful of the immediate knock-on effect of the cold weather.
“Patients who have pre-existing conditions may not be aware they are most at risk of falling ill in the days after temperatures drop.”
More than 50 schools across Lancashire were forced to close due to the snow and ice which gripped the county yesterday.
And, with conditions not expected to get much better - possibly even worse - for the rest of the week, thousands of pupils are likely to be enjoying more snowballing time than lessons.
While the majority unable to open yesterday were in the east of the county, one Preston school reluctantly remained closed because of the conditions on the road outside.
St Francis RC Primary in Goosnargh is situated on a hill and, despite pleas to the County Council for gritters to treat Horns Lane, the requests went unanswered. So 93 pupils had to stay at home.
“The road is treacherous and people can’t get up it,” said school bursar Shelley Taylor. “Cars were sliding all over, one member of staff nearly crashed and yet we can’t get the council to grit it.
“It got to just after eight yesterday and we had to tell parents we couldn’t open.
“We didn’t want to close, but we had no real choice. It was dangerous getting the children here.”