THE region is preparing to cope as a big freeze is set to strike.
Heavy snow is predicted to fall tomorrow with the Met Office warning of disruption as North Wales contends with up to 15cm of snow and more on higher ground.
Thousands of tonnes of salt is in place and ready for use and gritters are preparing to take to the streets in Wrexham, Flintshire and Chester to help make the roads safe for motorists.
Met Office spokesman Charlie Powell confirmed the area is set to feel the full effects of the snowfall.
He said: “We anticipate the snow is likely to fall from the early hours of Friday and an amber weather warning covers the area.
“There could be 10 to 15cm of snow and a risk of as much of 20 to 25cm on higher ground.
“There is the potential for severe disruption on Friday and we are expecting difficult conditions. People should be prepared to change their plans and only make journeys if they are absolutely necessary.
“We are also anticipating very strong winds and gales.”
Mr Powell said light snow could fall early on Saturday but the weekend is likely to be dry, although Friday’s snow may remain on the ground.
A spokesman for Wrexham Council said salt bins across the county have been filled and are ready for use.
“The council's environment department spent last spring and summer filling its salt stores and began the winter season with 8,000 tonnes of salt in stock, that's more than was used during the severe winter of 2010-11,” said the spokesman.
“Although salt has been used on the roads the stocks are replenished regularly and salt stocks are now just under 8,000 tonnes.”
Schools, community centres, libraries and Wrexham Museum have all been able to buy salt from the council.
Wrexham Council has 15 gritters, six quad bikes, two towable gritters – pulled by tractors and used particularly in very rural areas – and five demountable gritters available to contend with the snow.
“All 11 gritting routes have been examined to make sure they don't take longer than two-and-a-half hours to complete,” said the spokesman.
“Drivers are fully trained and are on standby that will send them out in all weather conditions and at all times of the day and night to grit the county's roads.”
The spokesman said information including school closures will be available on the council’s website at www.wrexham.gov.uk
Neighbouring Flintshire Council has also confirmed it is prepared to deal with heavy snow.
Steve Jones, Flintshire’s head of Streetscene, said: “Operational teams within Streetscene are prepared and ready to deal with the snow which is predicted for the weekend.
“Salt barns, salt heaps and salt bins are all full and the council’s fleet of gritting vehicles, together with the full labour resource from Streetscene, will be available to clear roads and footways if required.
“Should the bad weather impact on waste collections, notification will appear on the council’s website to advise residents of any alternative arrangements that may be necessary.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s highways service and its maintenance contractor Ringway are taking steps to try to keep residents moving.
As temperatures could drop to minus seven degrees Celsius, priority routes will be gritted in advance to minimise the risk of ice forming. Other roads will be treated when snow or ice is likely to persist with the highways service monitoring the weather and taking action when required.
The council’s 16-strong gritting truck fleet is able to grit priority routes within four hours and heavily-used pedestrianised areas across the borough are being monitored and treated where necessary.
Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member for community and environment, said: “Conditions are particularly hazardous at the moment because temperatures have been fluctuating around freezing and heavy rain has led to lots of water running off fields onto roads across the borough.
“Gritting cannot be done in the rain because the salt is simply washed away.
“We receive up-to-the-minute weather information from the Met Office and we grit in line with our policy to ensure the main roads across the borough remain open to traffic.
“Whilst our gritting teams are working hard we would urge motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to take extra care during the difficult conditions.”
Information about school closures can be found on the council’s website at www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk along with advice on how to stay safe and warm and who to contact in emergencies.