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In severe weather conditions, bulletins will be posted on our homepage directing you to information about any school and road closures.

To keep up to date with conditions, the Met Office gives general winter weather information.

Portsmouth normally escapes severe snow falls because of the mild coastal climate. Ice is usually the major winter problem, so stay alert on roads, be aware and above all be safe.

Using salt to clear ice and snow

For road salting, we use rock salt, which works by lowering the temperature at which water freezes. The Colas depot can store 850 tonnes of rock salt.

Spreading salt on roads before or after snow falls does not prevent snow lying. It is traffic moving over the road, which crushes and mixes the snow and salt together, that melts the snow.  Sometimes we put salt on roads before the temperature falls below freezing to prevent frost.

We are aware that using salt can damage plants, trees and grass verges, cause water pollution and even change the properties of the soil. Colas take this into consideration when weather emergencies require salting the roads. As an alternative, we use grit, clear snow/ice manually or with the use of snow ploughs.

Find out about all winter maintenance carried out in Portsmouth, including gritting routes and salt/grit bin locations.

Clearing roads of snow and ice

It’s the job of Colas and the council to keep roads clear. Precautionary salting is carried out when we receive notification of icy conditions from the Met Office and local weather stations. Roads are treated mostly at night or in the early hours of the morning to avoid traffic. We would not advise clearing the roads yourself.

Colas concentrate on the roads agreed with the council to be priorities, such as the vital transport routes in and out of the city, major bus routes, and major routes to hospitals, schools, shopping centres and other public services. These are marked as priority 1 or priority 2 roads on the map available below.

In the case of heavy snowfall, once priority roads have been cleared, Colas will try to manually or mechanically clear other roads.

The M27 and the A27 trunk road are maintained by the government’s Highways England (HE). Portsmouth City Council and HE share responsibility for the M275.

When we can't salt the roads

There are some situations in which roads aren’t salted, including:

  • When it’s raining – to avoid salt being washed away. This means that wet roads can sometimes freeze before we are able to salt them
  • During rush hour traffic – the salt is worn away before it can take effect, and the gritters are unable to progress in the congestion
  • If the temperature drops below -10c (14f), when salting is not so effective
  • On roads which aren’t often used – if there aren’t any passing vehicle tyres to mix the salt and snow together the snow will not melt
  • If the gritter has difficulty driving down one of Portsmouth’s many narrow roads due to parked cars

Clearing pavements of ice and snow

Anyone can clear snow and ice from their property, pavements outside their home or from public spaces – there is no law against it. Follow the Met Office’s snow code to clear snow and ice safely or follow our advice below.

There are 79 salt bins around the city, and residents can use the salt on pavements in their local area. Use salt wisely, and remember that it is not for use on private property.

Salting pavements works the same way as salting roads. To be effective, people need to walk on the area and mix the salt with the snow.

Colas concentrate on salting pavements near major shopping areas, hospitals, transport hubs, schools and other public areas. Other pavements will not be salted. In the case of heavy snowfall, once priority pavements have been cleared, we will try to clear lower-priority pavements.

When clearing snow and ice, do it carefully. Following our advice will help:

  • Do it early in the day – it’s easier to move fresh, loose snow
  • Don’t use water – it might re-freeze and turn to black ice
  • Use salt if possible – it will melt the ice or snow and stop it from re-freezing overnight
  • Use ash and sand if you don’t have enough salt – it will provide a grip underfoot
  • Pay extra attention when clearing steps and steep pathways – using more salt may help

Abandoning your car in snowy conditions

Try not to abandon your car, as it could get in the way of the salting or snow-clearing vehicles. We do try to get owners to move their cars out of the way, but abandoned or parked cars may be removed, or moved to another part of the road if they are obstructing snow-clearance.

If you believe your car has been moved, contact the city helpdesk on 023 9283 4092 during office hours. Outside of office hours you can call 023 9231 0900.

If you do have to abandon your car, remember to remove your valuables and lock it.

Closure or disruption of services

In very severe weather, headteachers may decide to close their schools. Council premises may be closed and services like rubbish collection might be disrupted. Find out which schools are closed due to adverse weather.

We’ll issue updates via the media and on:

You can contact the city helpdesk on 023 9283 4092 or email

Find out more about public transport in Portsmouth.