South Yorkshire is prepared for the big freeze ....

Wintry scene around Frecheville...Hardy Postman
Wintry scene around Frecheville...Hardy Postman
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Fleets of gritters will treat roads around-the-clock as weather forecasters predict up to ten centimetres of snow could fall across South Yorkshire today.

The big freeze has sparked action from councils and emergency services as they prepare for the white stuff to hit from lunchtime.

Temperatures were expected to plummet as low as minus six degrees last night as snow flurries began, according to the Met Office, and not rise above freezing today.

And residents told how they were stocking up - and staying in.

Laura Caldwell, forecaster for the Meteo Group, told The Star: “The real snow will hit from around lunchtime.

“We’re expecting there to be a few centimetres at least – we are saying around 10cms in a 24-hour period.”

Lesser snowfall could continue throughout Saturday and Sunday, with more on higher ground in the Peak District.

In Sheffield, Streets Ahead - the highways contract run by Amey for Sheffield Council - said priority routes were gritted in advance, and there was a 29-strong fleet of vehicles ready to clear snow.

Operational director Chris Morris said the service was ‘fully prepared’.

“All our gritters are fitted with snow ploughs and we will be ploughing across Sheffield non-stop until the priority routes are clear,” he said. “Once we have cleared these we will move on to clearing side roads of snow.”

Other staff were being drafted in to clear key walking routes and paths around hospitals.

A Rotherham Council spokesman said more than 3,000 tonnes of grit was available in its Hellaby depot. He added: “We will be salting roads as and when, around the clock if need be.”

Barnsley Council gritted highways all night to get a ‘head start’ on snowfall, said to be heaviest in Penistone.

Readers also told how they were preparing.

Rachael Pickin said: “Hot chocolate bought, extra gloves bought, soft fleece blankets and slipper socks bought, and good choice of family films recorded on Sky.

“Let it snow, let it snow.”

* Avoid any unnecessary travel.

* Allow extra time for journeys, pack essentials like a shovel, maps and jump-leads in the car as well as a hot drink and de-icer. Wear warm clothes and appropriate footwear.

* Check for up-to-date weather news, schools closures and road incidents before you set out.

* Call an ambulance only for genuine emergency health situations as the service faces extra pressure. Patients with minor ailments can call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 , see their GP, or visit a pharmacist instead.

* Check boiler and water pipes at home for ice as this may mean they have frozen over and can lead to broken pipes or boilers. Rotherham Council is advising residents to pour warm water over them to thaw if required.

* Train passengers are urged to check ahead of travel for service disruptions by calling National Rail on 0871 200 49 50 – and motorists are asked to park responsibly so gritters can pass as they treat roads.