GRITTERS are ready to hit the highways as the region prepares for an Arctic blast.
A yellow warning has been issued by the Met Office ahead of the predicted temperature drop to -1ºC this weekend.
Sleet tomorrow could turn to snow on Sunday, with the coast expected to see flurries.
The Highways Agency has issued advice ahead of the cold snap, with its salt stores among those which have been holding stocks of grit for the winter months.
It had stored 3,500 tonnes at its Carrville depot in Durham, ready for the region’s road network this season.
A spokesman said: “Our winter fleet works around the clock, but we need road users to give them the space they need to do their job.
“When sudden spells of very severe weather – in particular, heavy snowfall – coincide with periods of heavy traffic, it is not always possible to prevent congestion and delays, as our winter service vehicles are not able to treat the roads as they would in moving traffic.
“During severe winter weather we ask drivers to check road conditions and the weather forecast before setting out.”
In Sunderland, the council has 15,000 tonnes stored.
It plans to run a 24-hour treatment programme on commuter routes, with street cleaners diverted to snow and ice clearing when needed.
Durham County Council has 42,000 tonnes of salt. It has upgraded its fleet with 10 new vehicles, making 40 in total.