Our aim is to prevent snow and ice from stopping you travelling safely by vehicle or on foot.

During the winter we have a fleet of gritting and ploughing vehicles on 24 hour standby and our staff constantly monitors road and weather information. Our Roads Officer uses this information to prepare an action plan for the following 24 hours.

Although we receive regular and detailed weather forecasts, ice can form on a road surface before we have had time to complete gritting. Early morning frost is particularly hard to predict.

We use rock salt for winter service operations. The use of grit will only be considered when the temperature is extremely low. Rock salt has a limited impact on icy surfaces when temperatures drop below minus 8 -10C.

Our aim is to spread salt on the roads before ice forms but this is not always possible. Rainwater can freeze quickly and ice can form before our gritters have completed their routes. Additionally, if rain turns to snow during the morning or evening rush hour, traffic congestion makes it very difficult to grit roads.

We may carry out precautionary salting on receipt of an extreme weather forecast. This will normally be outwith peak traffic times, before the onset of icy conditions or prior to the morning peak. Gritting is normally completed within two hours and in the morning usually before 8:00am.

Weather forecasting and decision making

The Forecast Provider gives us weather forecasts which include road surface temperature information. They form part of our Ice Prediction System which is monitored 24 hours a day throughout the Winter.

During the winter period a Duty Officer Control Room, staffed by officers from Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire on a rota basis, operates between 5:00pm and 9:00am on weekdays, and between 5:00pm Friday to 9:00am Monday and public holidays.

There is a number of road weather stations throughout the Falkirk Council area that provide atmospheric and road surface temperature information at each location. This information is used by the forecast provider to prepare weather forecasts and to aid the Duty Officers and Duty Managers in their decision making process.

No matter how accurate the forecast, there are situations where we cannot grit the network prior to icy conditions. Some of the situations are as follows:

  • When rain is followed by rapidly clearing skies, salting will normally start after the rain has stopped (to avoid the salt being washed away). Sometimes temperatures may fall by as much as 5 degrees per hour and the wet roads may freeze before we have started or completed salting.
  • "Dawn frost" occurs on dry roads, when early morning dew develops, falls on a cold road, and freezes on impact. It is impossible to forecast with any accuracy where and when it will occur.
  • Rush hour snowfall, when rain turns to snow coinciding with the rush hour early salting cannot take place as it would be washed away and gritters cannot make progress due to traffic congestion. We will, however, always carry out salting to remove ice, in line with the road priority. This is not ideal, however, as salting takes longer due to traffic congestion.