The weather may have turned unseasonably mild of late, but Ice Watch gritters were out in force over the festive season – and had their busiest Christmas Eve in five years!
Contractors visited 258 sites across mainland Britain, spreading salt on car parks, paths and cycle tracks the night before Christmas. This was more than a six-fold increase on 2018. Just over a dozen were gritted in 2015 and there was no need for a single site to be attended to on Christmas Eve in 2016 or 2017.
But the picture changes radically in the years which saw a mild Christmas Eve, highlighting the erratic nature of British weather patterns and the need to be forever meteorologically vigilant.
A massive weather U-turn meant that Boxing Day 2016 required visits to 508 sites and the same day the following year necessitated 353 site visits – just two days after nowhere in the entire country had experienced any ice-related issues.
New Year’s Day in those same years also saw gritters out in force – with 544 and 196 sites treated. New Year’s Day 2018, after a completely ice-free Christmas day, saw Ice Watch gritters visit 310 sites.
As the only winter risk management specialist with its own full-time in-house meteorologist, Ice Watch, which partners with the BBC’s weather forecaster MeteoGroup, is in pole position to plan precisely when and where sites need to be gritted.
Timo Strom, the meteorologist in question, explained: “In the UK we can never rest on our laurels weather wise. As the statistics show, while one day may be relatively mild, the next could see frost, ice or snow. The change in 2016 and 17 from an ice-free Christmas Eve across the whole country to one which saw hundreds of sites needing our salt spread on paths and car parks just 48 hours later highlights the changeable nature of our weather systems.
“We devise detailed, tailored treatment strategies for all our clients so they can always feel confident. If the forecasts predict weather which will cause problems underfoot our contractors will be there.”