Gritters were out in force on main routes around County Durham last night and in the early hours of this morning in preparation for the heavy snowfall which disrupted rush-hour traffic.

Vehicles from Durham County Council’s 50-strong gritting fleet began salting main routes at 8.30pm yesterday and continued throughout the night and into this morning. Extra teams have also been enlisted to grit banks and problem areas in an attempt to keep commuters moving during the adverse weather.

Staff have also been clearing footpaths in town centres and helping motorists who have become stuck in the snow.

Mark Readman, Durham County Council’s highway services manager, said: “The snowfall this morning has created some challenging conditions, which have come on the back of a weekend which has also seen high winds and some flooding.

“However, our gritters have been out on priority 1 and 2 routes since yesterday evening and we have also had extra staff out helping to keep traffic moving.

“The roads did become quite congested during peak travelling times this morning due to the amount of snow falling in such a short period of time but it helped that many motorists had heeded advice to only travel if necessary.

“We will continue to monitor, plough and grit the main highway network but, hopefully, we can now look forward to improved conditions this afternoon.”

More than 150 of the county’s schools have had to close but with all reporting that they plan to re-open as normal tomorrow.

A number of household waste recycling centres around the county have opened late to allow snow to be cleared.

Some libraries and leisure centres have had to close but all main council offices and Customer Access Points are open as normal.

All council-run day care services are up-and-running, with some staff members making long journeys on foot to ensure they are still able to deliver services.

Home care visits will continue and council staff are contacting vulnerable residents to check if they need support or supplies.

Residents are advised to visit for information about services or follow Durham Council on Facebook and Twitter for live updates.