Gritters ready amid yellow weather warning for ice across Northern Ireland as temperatures plummet

Motorists warned as temperatures plummet across Northern Ireland.

The Department of Infrastructure says its winter safety service is now fully operational to keep Northern Ireland's roads moving as temperatures plummet.

It comes as a Met Office yellow weather warning for ice will be in place for Thursday across the region.

Wintry showers will spread overnight as air from the Arctic moves in. It will then move on to Wales and parts of the West Midlands during the morning.

The showers will fall on frozen ground in many areas, which will lead to icy stretches on untreated surfaces. There is a possibly of snow on higher ground.

UTV weather presenter Aisling Creevey says temperatures will continue to drop for the rest of the week.

"This will last until early next week.

"It has been the first time we have had such a cold spell of weather since February 2021 so it can be worth remembering to allowing extra time in the morning to make sure your windscreen is defrosted and to remember that there will be ice on the roads which is often visible so can make for challenging driving conditions."

Around 300 staff and 130 gritters are available to salt main roads to keep traffic moving safely and freely, the Department of Infrastructure says.

Twelve specialist snow blowers are also available to be deployed if required.

“Every year our winter service operation remains in place from October to April to ensure 7,000 kilometres of the road network on the salting schedule remain open," said Colin Sykes.

"With snow and ice forecast for this week and some disruption on our roads possible, staff are ready to be deployed as necessary.

“We have around 74,000 tonnes of salt in stock and in addition over 5,500 salt bins and 58,000 grit piles are also available for use by the public on a self-help basis on selected routes not included on the salting schedule."

Mr Sykes said ice-free roads cannot be guaranteed, even after salting, and urged drivers to be mindful of changing conditions.

"The best advice is in the Highway Code, take extra care even if roads have been salted, be prepared for road conditions changing over short distances and take care when overtaking gritters," he explained.

Meanwhile the RAC has advised motorists to check their vehicles are "winter ready", with properly inflated tyres that have good tread.

Spokesperson Rod Dennis added: "With temperatures plummeting this week, many drivers might be taken aback by the cold after an exceptionally mild autumn.

"Drivers with older batteries in their cars might also wish to give their vehicle a 20-minute drive before colder conditions arrive to ensure the battery can cope with sub-zero temperatures.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.