The winter gritting season was unusually long this year, and we are preparing for the possibility of similar unseasonal weather next year. According to The Met Office the winter was generally rather unsettled with weather systems generally coming in from the west. Although there were mild spells there were periods of widespread frosts and unseasonably most of the snowfall came at the end of the winter season.
Snow first fell in the UK in the North of England and Scotland during November. Although December 2017 saw temperatures close to average in most areas, on December 10th heavy snow fell in London and the UK Met Office issued a warning for heavy snow in Wales and much of central England. Our gritting teams were out keeping businesses working, gritting car parks, paths, and private roads across Hertfordshire, London, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to ensure staff could get to work.
Late Season Winter Gritting – the Beast from the East
Changes in the movement of the jet stream and the “sinking Polar Vortex” caused particularly cold conditions over Christmas and into the New Year. However it was in February and March when the coldest weather arrived. Late into the winter gritting season from late February to early March 2018 many parts of the UK experienced a spell of cold winter weather which the media called the ‘Beast from the East.’ The cold wave combined with Storm Emma. Temperatures fell to very low levels and went below freezing between the 28th February and 1st March as cold air was transported from Siberia to Europe. As a result many parts of the country experienced more snow. On this occasion the Met Office issued two Red Warnings for snow and they confirmed in their weather report that this was the most significant spell of snow and low temperatures for the UK overall since December 2010. The weather repeated on the weekend in mid-March but with less severe consequences.
Andrew Sherriff, Director, Clearway Gritting, St Albans, Hertfordshire said: ‘The weather this year has been unusual, it is not often we have experienced snow so late into the season but also such low temperatures in December. The snowfall in February and early March caused severe travel disruption in many parts of the country. Roads, railways and airports were closed and cars were stranded overnight in some roads in Scotland and England. Also many schools were also forced to close. However, by using the Met Office forecasting we were prepared for the bad weather and went to our clients premises to oversee car park gritting and we gritted private access roads and paths. Overall during the season we gritted over 25,000 sites and used approximately 3,000 tonnes of salt each month to keep our clients open during the heavy snowfall. It is too early to say if this new weather pattern will continue into next year but we will be reviewing the Met Office forecasts closely. When we meet clients to discuss their company gritting requirements we discuss the winter gritting season and make them aware that they must plan for snow at any time between early November and April. We check their premises to assess where they require gritting. A key area is the car park, paths and access roads.’