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winter gritting

Snow and Rain – Its Winter Again

Now that we’re all back at work, it is time to be prepared for a Winter chill! Our specialist winter weather forecasts all hint at a mid-month cold snap, with falling temperatures and ice, leading to potential operational disruptions. The advanced weather data for the gritting, transportation and emergency services shows flurries of snow moving across the country from around January 13. On January 14 they show snow on the ground from as far south as London to as far north as Inverness in Scotland.

We Are Expecting A Winter Chill

More flurries of snow continue from January 14 through to January 18, and the maps show that 5cm could settle in East Anglia by that date, with even more snow in Scotland. January is typically the peak month for snowfall in Scotland.

Looking ahead from January 17 to January 31, compared to normal, there is an increased chance of colder than average conditions during this period. Currently the chance of widespread severe cold is still deemed low, but still the risk of impacts from cold, including ice and snow is greater than normal.

It is likely to be drier than recent weeks, but what does fall is more likely to be of a wintry nature. While there is a chance of brief, unsettled spells, which would bring milder air for a time, it would likely also be accompanied by a period of sleet or snow. However, when, or even if, this would happen is very uncertain, and overall the main theme will be much more in the way of settled conditions through this period.

Nevertheless, our message is don’t get caught off guard – be proactive and ensure that your business stays on track – even when the mercury dips.

History Repeats?

While mild days in January aren’t unknown, the first month of the year do tend to throw sudden snow and a winter chill in our direction. The most dramatic of these was the “Great Freeze” of 1963, when The Thames turned into a skating rink and Big Ben fell silent, frozen by the -21°C chill. In 2009 and 2010 there were blizzards, blanketing cities in white and sending commutes into chaos.

January 2024 could usher in another icy chapter, with dramatic media talk of a “polar vortex” winds sending temperatures well below freezing in rural areas and snowfall blanketing areas from East Anglia to Scotland. Although uncertainty remains, the potential for disruption is clear.

Polar Vortex or Winter Chill?

A polar vortex is a large-scale, low-pressure area in the stratosphere, the upper layer of Earth’s atmosphere. It is essentially a swirling mass of cold air, rotating counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. This polar vortex strengthens significantly during winter – because of the stark temperature contrast between the frigid polar regions and the milder mid-latitudes.

This contrast fuels strong westerly winds that circle the poles, forming the vortex. While the polar vortex resides high in the stratosphere, it influences weather patterns in the lower troposphere, where most weather systems occur. When the vortex weakens or wobbles, frigid air plunges southward.

These southward “outbreak events” can bring periods of extreme cold and snowfall to mid-latitude regions such as The UK. That said, accurately predicting the severity and timing of polar vortex outbreaks is challenging. While meteorologists anticipate the possibility of colder-than-average temperatures and increased snowfall in January 2024, specific details, like the duration of any intense cold spells, remain uncertain.

Planning your Winter Maintenance

Be prepared for a freeze by taking these strategic steps:

  • Dust off Winter Plans: Revisit your existing winter weather protocols and update them if needed. Check stock levels, communication procedures, and employee safety guidelines.
  • Stock Up: Anticipate wintery weather and stock up on essential winter maintenance provisions such as de-icing salt.
  • Prioritise Employee Safety: Implement remote work policies where feasible. For on-site staff, ensure safe working conditions and clear communication on weather updates and safety protocols.

OUTCO Winter Gritting Services

OUTCO Winter Services cover all your needs during the Winter period. We offer comprehensive gritting and snow clearing, ensuring safe access to your premises and minimising disruptions. So, while your team focuses on keeping business running smoothly, let OUTCO tackle the heavy lifting of winter. Remember, a prepared business is a resilient business.

Don’t be caught off guard – plan, adapt, and let us use our extensive experience to make sure that winter does not affect your operational ability.

Make an enquiry…

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