LIMERICK City and County Council has 1,000 tonnes of rock salt to treat roads this winter - and if an amateur New Zealand forecaster is to be believed they will need every grain.
Ken Ring, who has featured on national newspapers and radio stations, has predicted heavy falls of snow in the last three days of November, a cold and snowy December, temperatures dropping to minus five in January and the “worst of the snow in March”.
He uses lunar cycles for his forecasts. But even if you take his views with a pinch of salt the council has plenty of it for workers to shake under the moonlight.
The 10,0000 tonnes is double last year’s reserve - 5,000 was in storage from last winter, which was one of the mildest in recent years.
“An additional 5,000 tonnes of salt will be drawn down by the council during the winter from the NRA and the Department of Transport. The shipments are scheduled to arrive into Foynes, via southern Spain and North Africa during the coming weeks and months. Additional salt is available if required in an emergency situation from the NRA’s strategic salt reserve,” said a council spokesperson.
There is fleet of 26-tonne salt spreader trucks, each equipped with GPS, to manage and co-ordinate road maintenance operations during the winter season.
Salt stocks will be used to treat strategic national - excluding the motorway network - and non-national routes around the city and county during the coming weeks and months. Limerick’s motorway and dual carriageways will be treated directly by contractors on behalf of the NRA. They assumed responsibility for the national motorway network in 2013, say the council.
The winter maintenance salting routes 2014-15 are divided into two categories - priority 1 and priority 2. Priority 1 relates to national and secondary roads, priority regional roads and some access routes to public facilities, such as the University Hospital Limerick. Priority 2 relates to Limerick’s remaining regional road network, and heavily trafficked local primary routes.
They are available to view on the council website - www.limerick.ie/council - as is a “Be Winter Ready” advice and information guide, which is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of preparing for severe weather.
The last three winters have been mild with above average temperatures recorded throughout Limerick for much of the time.
However, the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 brought record low temperatures, and significant disruption to traffic and travel as well as water supplies across Limerick.