Our weather is some of the most changeable on the planet, here’s why..
The UK has the some of the most notoriously unpredictable weather on the planet, but it is also one of the things that makes our local climate so unique. It is perfectly possible to experience all four seasons in one day, and we never know what the weather will be like from one minute to the next.
This can be challenging, especially when trying to plan effective winter gritting.
The variability of the UK’s weather is somewhat explained by the six main air masses that have an influence on our daily lives…
Polar Maritime air masses originate from the Arctic and North Atlantic Ocean. They are cold and moist and bring cloudy skies and rain or snow. These masses are formed when cold air from the Arctic Ocean mixes with warm, moist air from the Atlantic Ocean, creating a layer of clouds and fog, which can bring rain or snow to the UK.
Polar Continental air masses originate from the Arctic and Siberia. They are cold and dry, bringing clear skies and cold weather. Polar continental air masses are formed when cold air from the Arctic or Siberia moves over land.
Arctic Maritime air masses are like polar maritime air masses, but they are even colder and wetter. This is what beings heavy snow and ice storms.
Returning Polar Maritime air masses are polar maritime air masses that have been modified by passing over land. They are less cold and moist than their original form, but they can still bring rain or snow.
Tropical Continental air masses are formed when hot air from the Sahara Desert moves over land. They are hot and dry and bring clear skies and hot weather.
Tropical Maritime air masses are formed when hot air from the tropics moves over water. This air mass is hot and moist, and it can bring cloudy skies and rain or thunderstorms to the UK.
The UK’s weather is constantly changing as these air masses interact with each other. The type of weather that we experience depends on which air mass is dominant at the time.
In winter when we provide Winter Gritting, the polar maritime and polar continental air masses are most common. This brings us cold, wet weather with frequent cloud cover. In summer, the tropical maritime air mass is more common, bringing us warm, humid weather with more sunshine.
However, it is not uncommon to experience weather from other air masses at any time of year. For example, we can sometimes get warm weather in winter from the tropical continental air mass, or cold weather in summer from the polar continental air mass.
The Jet Stream
The UK’s weather is also influenced by the jet stream, which is a band of strong winds high up in the atmosphere. The jet stream helps to steer the air masses around the globe. When the jet stream is strong, it can bring more extreme weather to the UK, such as heavy rain or snow storms which is when we provide snow clearance.
The Gulf Stream
Last but not least, the Gulf Stream brings warm water to the UK, which helps to moderate the country’s climate. Without the Gulf Stream, the UK would be much colder, with winters that are similar to those in Canada.
If you would like to find out how we get ahead of the weather and deliver best in class winter gritting please get in touch.
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