When Do The Gritters Come Out?
Road gritting is often something that can be taken for granted. The majority of us are lucky enough to go to bed at night and wake up to find our main roads and motorways have been gritted while we were sleeping.
How do winter maintenance teams know when go out?
Knowing the forecasted weather conditions is a key element for running a successful winter maintenance programme. Important factors include; anticipated precipitation, intensity of precipitation, temperature (both air and ground) expected length of weather event.
Each local authority or winter maintenance company will have a target temperature for gritting. This is generally between 0 and 2 degrees. When the temperature is looking likely to reach the trigger level the gritters will set off a few hours earlier to apply de-icing salt to their routes. (Although it is called road gritting, it is actually salt that is spread as has no de-icing properties and will not melt frost or ice.)
The routes are planned with the anticipated situation. Due to the scale of the operation it is a task that is often done at night-time. This is a preventative action before the temperature reaches its lowest, with the main aim of preventing frost and ice forming. In the event of unexpected rain fall in very low temperatures the roads will need to be gritted again to prevent hazardous conditions, and the gritters will continue to spread de-icing salt each day, as required.
While we all have a fair idea of when the roads may need gritted, winter maintenance and local authorities need to work on more than feel and intuition. All gritting companies use information from local and national weather stations to help them make a decision on when to go out. This information forms a pivotal part of winter maintenance contracts. Customers will not want to pay for salt runs that are not required; yet can’t afford to not have their sites gritted when they should be. Customers need assurance that their sites are accessible, open and safe at all times and place trust in the gritting companies to make the right, informed, decision.