December, 2010 will long be remembered as the coldest month experienced in Co. Kilkenny. Sustained low temperatures and unseasonably early snowfall made life very difficult for householders but also for commuters and those trying to go about their daily business in the county.
For nearly thirty nights in a row the country's road network was subjected to severe night frost and for six days in a row up to the 26th December daytime temperatures struggled to rise above freezing point.
For Kilkenny County Council, the task of how to manage gritting on 3,200km of road network began in early 2010. As a starting principle it would never be possible to apply grit or salt to all roads in the county. Instead a priority salting programme concentrating on the M8 and M9 motorways, the national primary and secondary routes and certain highly trafficked regional roads was put in place. The programme involves routine salting on roughly 450km of road every night deploying the Councils fleet of gritters form the machinery yard on the Hebron Road.
In the period since 27th November about 3000tons of salt have been used covering approx 15,000km of road, cumulatively.
As a sign of the severity of the winter of 2010 and also that of January 2010, it is remarkable that snow ploughs had not been in active use in Kilkenny since the mid eighties. December 2010 put an end to that record.
The Councils ploughs were deployed throughout the month as required, most notably in rural areas or in convoy on the motorways.
It takes skill and expertise to drive gritting trucks and snowploughs in temperatures of -15 c. In addition most of the work has to be done during unsociable hours deep in to the night and early morning. At times it can be very demanding and towards the end of December it seemed never ending. Family time for the Council drivers over Christmas was given over to road gritting and public safety.
To the drivers and fitters in the Kilkenny Machinery Yard, we say well done to all