[D]rivers should continue to take extra care on the roads tonight and over the weekend, Highways England advised this evening.
Met Office Yellow warnings for ice and snow are in place across large parts of the country, with further snowfall forecast and temperatures set to remain below zero into the weekend.
Highways England’s teams of traffic officers, inspectors, gritting and snow plough crews are working around the clock in extreme weather conditions to keep motorways and major trunk roads open across the country.
Large areas of the Highways England network are fully operational today. However, the South West and North regions have experienced particularly difficult driving conditions and the A303, A1 in Northumberland and trans-Pennine routes (M62, A628, A66) have closures in place.
In the north of the country wind speeds of 93mph were recorded on exposed sections of the trans-Pennine M62 route resulting in the closure of the motorway near to its highest point for safety reasons. The snow gates are also in operation on the A66 and A628 due to drifting snow.
In the South West the A303 remains closed at Mere and between Ilminster and Honiton. Work is taking place to assist the recovery of vehicles so that we can get our ploughs through to treat the road. Drivers are advised to avoid this route.
Highways England has been working closely with local authorities and the emergency services to assist drivers and affected by these closures to get them on their way as safely and soon as possible.
Highways England’s Head of Road Safety, Richard Leonard, said: “We’re working around the clock doing all we can to keep our motorways and major A-roads open and free from disruption.
“We are encouraging road users, particularly in the South West, Pennine areas and Northumberland, to drive only if it’s necessary – your safety is our top priority and our advice is to work at home, travel by public transport or to wait until the weather and road conditions have improved.
“If this is not possible then plan your journey carefully, monitor weather reports and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel and before you set off, make sure vehicle is ready for your journey and is clear of snow.
“Anyone thinking of using the roads should be advised to keep their distance and reduce speed, because even in conditions that seem normal, and the snow is not settling, it can be slippery if ice patches have formed, or where fresh grit has not been worked into the carriageway.”
Nicola Maxey from the Met Office said: “With snow in the forecast it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the latest Met Office forecast and warnings for your area to ensure you’re up to date with the latest situation.
“You can do this by checking the Met Office website for the daily forecast or our warnings page, or you could download our weather app which will ensure you can keep up to date while you are out and about. With the latest weather information for your area you will be able better prepare for what is in store and plan your activities accordingly.”