Lancashire's highways team will be rolling out a colourful cast of characters to battle the ice and snow, and keep the county's roads moving this winter.
Lancashire County Council's 45-strong gritter fleet will be joined for the first time by Basil Salty, Albert Ice-stein, Freddie Frostoff, and Holly Chilloughby, making their debut appearances this year after being named by the Lancashire public in the Spring.
They will be joined by Penelope Gritstop, Cool Grittania and Grittersaurus on their mission to keep Lancashire moving in the face of whatever severe weather comes their way.
The seven gritters are part of Lancashire's 45-strong frontline force alongside more seasoned salters such as True Grit, Captain Snow and Margrit, which were named in past years' competitions.
They will be driven and directed by the 160-strong workforce who form the county's winter service rota, keeping a close eye on the forecasts, and working shifts around the clock if necessary to keep the gritters going throughout prolonged severe weather. Everyone who works on winter also has a day job within highways, though winter duties are prioritised if necessary with appropriate rest periods.
The highways team have been busy over recent weeks, topping up salt stocks at the county's seven operational depots, servicing gritters, ploughs, snow-blowers and tractors, and restocking the county's 2,600 grit bins and roadside salt piles.
The council aims to treat the 1,500 miles of the county council's priority road network, within around four hours whenever a freeze is forecast. A further network of second most important roads are also treated during continuous ice or snow to improve access to the main routes, but these can only be treated once the priority roads are clear. No council treats every road as this simply isn't practical.
County Coun. Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We're as ready as we can be for winter, with around 29,000 tonnes of salt in stock, which will be topped up when needed throughout the season.
"As well as our frontline gritters, we also have 13 vehicles in reserve and a number of other vehicles such as tractors and snow-blowers which can come in handy on some of the most exposed routes.
"We're also able to call on farmers and agricultural contractors if necessary, to clear snow on rural roads and keep links to villages open if our resources are stretched.
"However I'd also ask that everyone takes responsibility to make sure they are prepared for winter as, while we always do our best, there are limitations to the service we can provide.
"Always drive according to the conditions as they can vary widely over even a short journey, particularly on untreated routes. Even roads which have been gritted can be icy, most often early in the morning before the movement of traffic has activated the salt by mixing it with the ice.
"It's always useful to have a snow shovel, torch, batteries and a first aid kit handy, and salt to treat paths around your home if you're concerned about them becoming slippy.
"Please also look after yourself, and check on any friends and relatives who may be vulnerable, making sure they are keeping warm, have some company, and any medication they need if they can't get out and about."