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Summer temperatures

OUTCO explores why summer gritting is becoming more widespread

It is now normal for the UK to experience prolonged hot summer temperatures. OUTCO looks at the reasons why it is common to see the winter gritters out gritting the roads during the warm months performing summer gritting.

Road surface temperature and summer gritting
As the Outdoor Estate Compliance Experts, we have observed that when road temperatures get beyond the 40 degrees Celsius mark, British road surfaces become vulnerable to melting and without some proactive measures, can start to deteriorate.

In laboratory tests, road surfaces do withstand temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius, but during any mini heatwave, the temperature can go as high as 55 degrees Celsius.

High temperatures and heavy traffic
Gritting isn’t normally an activity that most people would associate with summer, but all it takes is a few days of clear sunshine and you’ll start to see council teams of winter gritters deployed to protect the melting roads with summer gritting. High temperatures combined with heavy traffic can pull up the softened asphalt from the road surface, making it vulnerable to further damage from vehicles and the environment.

Winter salt and fine hard stone dust
Salt doesn’t just melt ice, it can also be used to stop asphalt from melting. Salt attracts moisture from the ambient air and cools the asphalt; it also removes excess moisture from the asphalt itself making it less sticky.

Alongside spreading salt, hard stone in the form of fine dust is commonly used. The hard stone absorbs the soft bitumen and stabilises the road surface. Hard stone is less corrosive than salt, which is more popular with motorists and areas where a low corrosive alternative is needed.

Our current hot spell has already brought out the surface gritters, as we look to protect the roads. As temperatures are set to increase due to climate change, it will be an extremely common sight to see gritters operating in both the summer and winter months.

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