EAST SUSSEX is bracing itself for a Friday white-out with heavy snowfall predicted tomorrow.
The Met Office this afternoon upgraded the severe weather warning for the south east from yellow to orange predicting severe disruption with five to 10 centimetres for snow.
They are forecasting a band of snow, heavy in places, reaching the south and parts of south-east England during Friday morning and lasting through the afternoon and evening.
Overnight, the Met Office has said it will be frosty and rather cloudy in East Sussex, with a few isolated light snow showers possible throughout.
“A bitterly cold south-easterly wind is expected to increase through the night. More persistent snow arriving across Hampshire and Oxfordshire by dawn.”
For tomorrow, the forecast is for snow becoming widespread through the morning, with flurries continuing for the remainder of the day. The Met Office has warned an accumulation of snow brings a risk of disruption. There will be bitter south-easterly winds, with drifting possible over hills.
The orange severe weather warning means there is likely to be widespread snow with a number of road closures, others passable only with care.
Commuters were being warned to expect disruption on road, rail and air because of the difficult driving conditions. They were advised to allow for extra time for their journeys.
Gritters from East Sussex County Counci were due to begin gritting the county’s main routes at 7pm this evening.
The Highways Agency has issued an amber alert and is warning motorists to be prepared for fresh falls of snow, heavy in places, on Friday morning.
Motorists are advised to check the weather forecast this evening and allow extra time for their journey in the morning.
Steve Crosthwaite, head of the Agency’s National Traffic Operations Centre said: “It would certainly be a good idea to check the latest forecast before you go to bed tonight so you’re prepared for the morning – and then set your alarm a bit earlier so you have extra time to prepare your car and make your journey in the morning.
“During periods of severe weather we also suggest people consider whether their journey is essential. They may want to delay their travel until conditions improve and to allow our winter fleet the chance to treat the roads.”
The Highways Agency, which looks after motorways and major A roads in England, has a 500-strong fleet of salt spreaders and snow ploughs available.
They have been constantly treating the roads as necessary and have already travelled more than 650,000 miles this winter.
Steve Crosthwaite added: “We are using salt to treat the road network and have ploughs and snow blowers on standby if necessary.
“Our traffic officers are working around the clock to monitor our road network, deal with any incidents and keep traffic moving.”
Southern Railways has already decided to operate an amended timetable tomorrow because of the forecasted snow.
A spokesman said: “The latest weather forecast for tomorrow suggests significant snowfall across many parts of the Southern network.
“In preparation for this, Southern will be operating an amended timetable for Friday.
“Trains will not split or join at Haywards Heath or Horsham stations, and will mean passengers who travel on the East and West Coastways into and out of London may be affected.”
Both Southern and Southeastern advised passengers to check their train times before travelling.
A Southeastern spokesman said: “Weather forecasts are predicting moderate to heavy snow to fall across the south east network from early tomorrow morning.
“We’re reliant on Network Rail clearing the tracks and ensuring points and signals don’t freeze up so we can run a train service. Given the weather forecast, there may be disruption on some routes through the day.
“Our staff will be out working to clear platforms and treat icy surfaces and Network Rail will be running snow and ice clearance trains day and night to help keep the network open.
“We’re advising all passengers to check before travelling to see if train times have been altered, allow plenty of extra time and take extra care on the slippery roads and footpaths.”
Gatwick Airport has advised passengers to allow extra time to get to their flights and to call the airline before travelling to the airport.
Staff at the DGH have been put on standby for the bad weather, with all wards and rooms kept warm.
Meanwhile at Drusillas near Alfriston, staff at the park are braced for the snowy weather after taking delivery of 80 bales of staw and 40 bales of hay on Wednesday.