Big freeze on the way!

A council gritter with snow plough attached in action on Moor Road, Orrell in 2010.

A council gritter with snow plough attached in action on Moor Road, Orrell in 2010.

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WIGANERS are urged to prepare for a plunge in temperatures as the mild start to the year comes to an abrupt end.

Freezing conditions, fog patches, sleet and snow showers are all forecast throughout the UK with drivers being told to take particular care.

Temperatures in the borough are expected to drop as low as minus three over the weekend, the Met Office confirmed.

A spokesman said: “Temperatures in the Wigan area will be freezing overnight for the next few days. Sunday may have bright spells but temperatures will struggle to get much above freezing.

“Throughout next week, in western areas of the country, sleet and snow showers are likely to continue towards the east. It will be cold with widespread frost and ice in places.”

The plunging temperatures are being caused by cold fronts from Russia moving in from the east meeting with similar conditions coming from the Atlantic in the west - leaving the UK as a cold weather “battle ground”.

Wigan Council moved to reassure residents that it is prepared for the upcoming treacherous conditions.

Martin Kenyon, Head of Risk Management, said: “We work to ensure that all the main roads, including principal bus routes and routes for emergency services are accessible.

“Grit boxes are provided on steep minor roads and priority is given to maintaining safe driving conditions on the most frequently used routes.

“We will ensure that residents are informed how public services are likely to be affected, such as waste collection, public transport, highways, social services, health and schools.”

Drivers have been advised to take extra precautions before setting out on a journey although the Highways Agency said they were also prepared to keep the motorways going through the borough open.

A spokesman said: “We are prepared but we would like to ensure that drivers take necessary precautions before heading out. “Our state-of-the-art ploughs and gritters are ready to go and we will be monitoring conditions on an hourly basis.

“But just because we have cleared the motorways does not mean drivers can go 70mph without thinking. Motorists should remember they need to allow more time for their journeys in poor conditions and take extra care.

“Also prepare for delays or even being stuck in snow by keeping supplies such as water, food, clothing and even a shovel in your vehicle.”