Having accurate, reliable weather forecasts is key to making the right decisions on gritting and snow clearance. In the UK, two of the main weather forecast providers that help organisations and gritting service companies gain accurate weather forecasts are:
- Netweather FreezeAlert
Established in 2003, Netweather is one of the leading independent weather forecasting companies in the UK. FreezeAlert is used by winter maintenance contractors for 1000’s of sites across the country every winter and has been constantly developed and updated since its inception in 2009. Netweather uses a combination of data from the UK Met Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and their own in house forecast models for all of their forecasting products, including FreezeAlert.
- Met Office
The Met Office is a well-known and trusted provider of weather reports for gritting companies. The Met Office offer either a site-specific forecast or a regional and national forecast for customers who have sites in different locations. The forecasts can also identify the amount of snowfall and minimum road surface temperature.
CGM Group are happy to advise customers on the choosing a weather forecasting provider.
Considerations when looking at forecasts and deciding to grit
When looking at forecasts and deciding whether to grit, it’s important to be able to predict the road surface temperatures (RST) than relying on the air temperature. The RST can be lower than the air temperature as the ground can retain the cold.
Both NetWeather and the Met Office use a similar traffic light reporting system, and when it shows red then gritting is recommended.
You should also look at the amount of cloud cover, as the clouds can act like a blanket and help keep the RST temperature higher than if there was no cloud cover.
In winter the impact of the sun is reduced as the sun is at a lower angle and the rays are more spread out. If your site has many tall buildings and trees this could prevent the sun being able to increase the RST.
Our experienced team will be happy to discuss the forecast and the other factors when determining whether to proceed with gritting a site.
Forecasting snow fall
According to the Met Office precipitation falls as snow when the air temperature is below 2 degrees Celsius, and in the UK the heaviest snowfalls tend to occur when the air temperature is between 0 to 2 degrees Celsius.
Generally, if the weather forecaster predicts 5cm or more of snowfall between midnight and 6am then snow clearance may be required.