MOTORISTS who use the M6, M56 and M62 are being urged to plan ahead before ‘significant’ snowfall hits.

National Highways is encouraging motorists to consider whether their journey is necessary with snow forecast in the early hours of tomorrow morning, Thursday.

It follows warnings from the Met Office for snow in northern areas and as far south as the Midlands across the day.

National Highways has also issued its own severe amber weather alert, which is based on different criteria and is focused on the potential impact to the strategic road network.

On lower ground, snow could turn to rain during the late morning, but higher routes could see snow fall throughout the day with very difficult driving conditions, particularly for HGVs and high-sided vehicles like caravans.

Up to 2.5cm of snow is predicted above 200m – including parts of the M6, M56 and M62 – and 10cm to 15cm above 300m.

This could peak with as much as 20cm of snow at the peak of the M62 and A628 Woodhead Pass.

National Highways says if you are considering travelling on these higher routes, ask yourself if your journey is essential, and before setting off, make sure you and your vehicle are prepared.

HGV drivers are asked to consider avoiding parts of the road network with steeper than normal inclines, particularly in northern parts of the country.

The predicted weather conditions could lead to vehicles becoming jack-knifed or stranded, which can prevent gritting vehicles treating the road with salt or ploughing snow clear. 

Patches of fog and high winds gusting around 50mph could also make driving conditions treacherous on higher and more exposed routes.

Road users are advised to follow messages displayed on overhead signs and listen for radio updates.

A fleet of 530 gritters are on hand for National Highways to call upon during sub-zero temperatures.

Amy Shaw, national network manager, said: “Freezing conditions as we are expecting tonight bring hazards such as snow and ice.

“Take every possible step to understand your journey in advance and allow lots of extra time when travelling; prepare for the unexpected.

“Check the weather forecasts when planning your journey, and if weather conditions become challenging, adjust your driving behaviour and take extra care.”

National Highways also reminds motorists to keep TRIP in mind ahead of journeys – Top-up oil, water and screenwash; Rest every two hours; Inspect tyres and lights; and Prepare by checking your route and the weather forecast.

Abigail Oakes, senior account manager at the Met Office, added: “We are working closely with National Highways throughout the year to help people stay safe on the roads, and providing the best possible support for road users during periods of severe weather.

“All of the information we gather helps National Highways to inform road users about current road conditions whatever the weather.

“We also share information through channels including our website, third party travel providers – including sat nav companies – and local radio stations.”