Gritters are geared up for the first call out of the winter season as freezing temperatures are forecast in Birmingham this weekend.

Birmingham City Council’s highways partner, Amey, deliver an annual winter maintenance service with gritters on standby 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week throughout the season, which runs from the beginning of October until May each year.

The city’s fleet of 25 salt spreaders are called upon every time road surface temperatures are predicted to drop below 0C …and it is all about timing. Precautionary gritting is normally done late in the evening, before the coldest temperatures arrive, but it is key not to send gritters out too early, especially if rain water could wash salt away.

Chris Lucas, Winter Maintenance Manager for Amey in Birmingham, said:
“Keeping the roads safe during winter is both a science and an art. Our carefully planned gritting routes cover 750 miles and include Birmingham’s busiest roads, bus routes and vital routes identified by the emergency services.

“We monitor and analyse a range of forecasts so roads are treated when the salt will be most effective. Salt lowers the freezing temperature of water, making ice less likely to form, so we have to carry out precautionary gritting before any frost. We then undertake reactive gritting as needed in response to accumulations of snow and ice during severe wintery weather.”

To explain more about what happens behind the scenes as councils up and down the country prepare for winter, Amey are launching a national #ScienceOfWinter campaign. The online campaign aims to get #WinterGeeks talking about how science and data can be used to overcome the challenges of winter.

For information on the highways winter maintenance service in Birmingham, including maps of gritting routes, visit Birmingham city council’s new website: