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Thaw in Norfolk set to start this weekend, forecasters say

Forecasters say the thaw in Norfolk is likely to start this weekend.

Forecasters say the thaw in Norfolk is likely to start this weekend.

© Archant Norfolk 2012

The big thaw in Norfolk is set to start this weekend, but forecasters have warned that even then the ice and snow are likely to linger for a few days before disappearing.

After a week of wintry weather causing widespread disruption in Norwich and Norfolk, forecasters at University of East Anglia-based Weatherquest said the cold spell could be coming to an end, albeit slowly.

Jim Bacon, from Weatherquest, said: “I think the snowfall is finished for a while, but we are going to have continuous cold weather for much of this week.

“It is going to be mainly dry and very cold today. In the case of Norfolk we’re going to have temperatures which could be down to about minus four degrees celsius and we’ll have fairly sharp frosts.

“That will be the theme for the rest of the week, but coming into the weekend we are going to get a less cold front from the Atlantic.

“But it will be a very difficult transition. Eventually we will get enough milder air in to thaw the snow, but at first it will have a tough job to do that. The wind will feel cold and raw, but by the late part of the weekend and going into Monday and Tuesday things will have warmed up enough. We could see temperatures then of six, seven or eight degrees celsius in the daytime.”

The prospect of warmer weather will be good news for the Norfolk economy, which has suffered after a week of snow and ice.

More than 280 schools in Norfolk were shut yesterday, with parents forced to take days off work or pay for childcare, while retailers in the city have suffered as the snow kept people away.

Caroline Williams, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said the snow was likely to have had a devastating impact.

She said: “Although pretty to look at the impact of the snow has been devastating for many businesses across Norfolk. Probably hit hardest, the retailers, even if their staff get in, have very limited footfall but the snow has hit the productivity and plans of most businesses.”

According to insurers RSA, the UK’s economy takes a battering of £473m per day, based on conservative estimates that a third of the workforce would not make it into work.

Norfolk police were called to about 25 crashes and urged drivers to take extra care, while Norfolk County Council’s gritters were out and about salting the county’s roads.

Nick Tupper, highway maintenance manager for Norfolk County Council, said: “As resources become available we will be back out re-filling grit bins and treating high priority pedestrian areas. We are grateful for support from the city, borough and district councils who have helped where they can.

“Since the cold weather set in on January 13, we have notched up 40 actions – that’s well over 80,000 miles of total gritting, and over 12,500 tonnes of road salt.

“Overall we have been out 81 times so far this winter compared with around 100 for the whole of last winter, with a lot of this winter still to go. We are continuing to be restocked at about 1,000 tonnes a day, so salt supplies are holding up well and there is no shortage.”

Bus services continued to suffer delays and disruption but Greater Anglia said the railways were running generally well, with some minor delays.

Frozen pipes forced the closure of nine of Norfolk’s recycling centres, while waste and recycling collections in Norwich continued to be suspended.

A Norwich City Council spokesman said: “Please leave your wheelie bins out for collection on your normal collection day and we will empty your bin as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Norwich police also took to social network site Twitter last night to say: “Lots of snowballs being thrown at people’s houses/them. Have fun in the snow but please be mindful of those that don’t want to be involved!”

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