Temperatures set to plunge to -9C as winter weather bites
HIGHWAYS officials have insisted they were well prepared for heavy snowfall which brought main roads across the region to a standstill.
Hundreds of motorists were trapped for up to six hours on routes including the A50 through Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday, with many motorists deciding to abandon their cars and make alternative plans to get home.
Jo Carroll, spokesman for the Highways Agency in the West Midlands, which is responsible for the A50 and A500, said gritters had treated the roads three times between 2pm and 6pm.
She said: "The Highways Agency was well prepared for the snowfall this weekend, and everything that could have been done was done prior to and during this weekend's snowfall.
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"Highways Agency staff worked extremely hard to get traffic moving again as quickly as possible, with extra traffic officer crews and recovery services on scene to help clear stranded vehicles and winter teams continually salt-treating the affected sections of road."
Problems on the A50 were exacerbated when a lorry jackknifed on the westbound side of the carriageway, at Blythe Bridge, at about 6pm.
The incident meant an eight-kilometre stretch of the road had to be closed for nearly 10 hours.
Police diverted traffic through Uttoxeter, Checkley and Tean, until the road was fully re-opened at just before 4am on Sunday.
At the peak of the chaos, traffic backed up to the A518 roundabout at Uttoxeter.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council confirmed its gritters were out four times between noon on Saturday and 3am on Sunday and again between 7am and midday on Sunday.
Councillor Adrian Knapper, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: "We've used around 350 tonnes of salt so far leaving us with around 2,900 tonnes left."
Travellers were last night warned of further dangerous driving conditions as small showers were expected to turn to ice.
Aisling Creevey, forecaster for MeteoGroup, said there were also "perfect conditions for fog" in low-lying, sheltered areas.
Six severe weather alerts were in place last night.
Ms Creevey said: "Temperatures will struggle to rise from their overnight minimums. Over the next couple of nights it is going to be very chilly. Today we could see -6C to -9C overnight."
Seventy-two-year-old Alan Seabridge, of Sterndale Drive, Clayton, tried to clear his street
Mr Seabridge said: "I tried to clear the street with my snow shovel because it hadn't been gritted, but I was finding it difficult.
"The snow was falling faster than I could shovel. I didn't even attempt to drive in it, I just stayed inside."
Among the affected were thousands of football fans who were stranded at the Britannia Stadium for more than three hours.
Aaron Fedtschyshack, aged 22, from Woore, said: "I went to pick my friend up from the stadium and it took me about two-and-a-half hours to get from Hanford."