Hi: 19° Lo:5°
By Ian Dipple Thursday 17 January 2013 Updated: 18/01 11:17
SEVERAL schools are closed this morning as the area prepares for snow.
Alcester Academy, Alcester Grammar, Mappleborough Green Primary, Studley Infants, Studley St Mary's CE Junior and St Mary's Catholic Primary in Studley have all shut with reports of up to 15cm of the white stuff set to blanket the area.
Demand is so high from parents in Worcestershire trying to find out if their child's school is closed the server has crashed but many schools in Redditch are already confirmed as shut.
Among them are Abbeywood First, Alvechurch CE Middle, Arrow Vale RSA Academy, Astwood Bank First, Batchley First, Beoley First, Birchensale Middle, Church Hill Middle, Feckenham First, Holyoakes Field First, Matchborough First and Oak Hill First.
Also Pitcheroak, Roman Way First, St Bede's Middle, St George's First, St Luke's First, St Stephen's First, Tardebigge First, Tenacres First, The Forge Secondary Short Stay, The Vaynor, Walkwood Middle, Webheath First and Woodfield Academy.
Trinity High School is only open to students taking exams as are Kingsley College and St Augustines Catholic High School. Beoley First School was open at 8am but was monitoring the forecast and may decided to close at short notice.
The first flurries were expected about 3am today but only a light dusting had fallen by 8am. But forecasters are still predicting heavy snow from 9am today which will continue until about 2pm with lighter showers expected later in the day.
The Met Office has issued an amber warning with up to 15cm of snow potentially falling on higher ground in Worcestershire, lower than the 25cm first feared.
Even at low levels between 10cm and 15cm of snow is expected with the potential for major disruption to the transport and road network.
The amount of snow predicted is similar to that which fell the week before Christmas 2010, bringing the borough to a grinding halt and costing the county's economy at least £15million.
Gritters took to the roads at 2pm on Thursday to begin treating all designated routes and will use double the amount of salt. By 9.30pm tonight all routes are expected to have been treated and teams will be on standby to go out and clear roads of snow if necessary.
The snow is forecast to continue throughout Friday and into the early hours of Saturday morning which could lead to significant disruption during the morning rush hour period. Temperatures are also expected to remain sub-zero throughout the day.
Motorists are advised to drive with caution even on treated roads, with conditions expected to be very difficult, especially on Friday morning.
All 1,223 grit bins across the county have been restocked and residents are urged to use them to clear paths and roads and not their own drives.
Jon Fraser, Worcestershire County Council's highways customer and community manager, said: "The gritting crews have been very busy over the last week clocking up the equivalent mileage of travelling from Redditch to Moscow around three times.
"We'll be monitoring things through the night and our inspectors will give the go-ahead for vehicles, fitted with ploughs, to go out and clear roads when they can during the early hours. Teams will then continue going out whilst we're in the grips of the extreme weather.
"We'll be doing all we can to help motorists, however it's important stress that the message to drivers is still the same but no less important, especially during more extreme bouts of winter weather.
"Grit has never been, and will never be a miracle cure. It's not safe to assume you can travel at normal speeds even if you think a road has been treated with salt. Please take care, slow down and drive according to the conditions."
Barry Gromett, from the Met Office, added: "If you have to go out and make a journey, plan it with room for disruptions and be prepared for long delays and cancellations.
"Listen to your local radio stations and check weather updates before leaving the house and take extra coats just in case."
Visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk for the latest information on school closures, along with any disruption to public transport and services. There will also be updates on the Standard's website.
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