MORAY council today deployed snowploughs in their battle against the sandstorms which have been raging across the region for the past two days.
High winds blowing across the fertile sandy soils along the Moray Firth coast have been whipping up massive dust storms across a huge swathe of the coastline, blocking roads and reducing visibility for motorists to almost zero.
And Moray Council today announced that the local authority had mobilised its winter maintenance fleet of vehicles – including snowploughs – to clear roads in the area which have been blocked by deep sand drifts.
A council spokesman said: “Some roads were blocked and others were passable only with care after thousands of tons of soil were blown off farmers’ fields by two days of gale force winds which also brought down about 20 trees.
“Moray Council has mobilised its winter maintenance fleet of vehicles – including snowploughs – to clear sand drifts from affected roads.”
He continued: “Although all routes were expected to be reopened today, it is likely to be several weeks before the clear-up operation is completed and motorists have been warned to take extra care, particularly on narrow country roads.”
The spokesman explained: “Blown sand is a regular occurrence in lowland Moray during times of strong winds in the spring but it is the first time in many years that such a large scale clear-up operation has been necessary.
“Council squads worked on late last night with ploughs and excavators in an effort to keep roads open and work resumed early this morning.”
The A941 Elgin-Rothes road was blocked at Fogwatt but has since reopened, as has the Mosstodloch-Garmouth road.
The council spokesman said: “Among roads still currently closed are the Wester Alves road between Coltfield crossroads and the B9089 and the eastern end of the Auchtertyre road. Many other roads are affected in places by blown sand and are passable with care. The cycle track between Elgin and Lossiemouth is also affected. Staff involved in the clear-up are currently giving priority to A and B class roads and to roads which are blocked.”
He added: “The rain forecast for later this morning could add to the difficulties because drainage gullies may be blocked and result in flooding. Wet, compacted sand is also more difficult to shift and may require to be dug out by excavators.
“Some roads are likely to be affected by sand for some time to come and we would urge motorists to take extra care.”