Every winter, gritters roll out of their garages and take to the roads, helping make roads and car parks a safer environment for public and private use. This is critical in ensuring road conditions remain suitable throughout the winter months and when there’s a higher risk of ice or snowfall. So, when should businesses expect to grit?
When should you grit?
Gritting needs to happen after heavy rainfall, before snowfall and before the ground temperature begins to freeze and when snow, ice and frost is forecasted. It’s a complex process, and gritting companies most often rely on forecasters, technology systems as well as existing weather recording stations.
For grit to be effective, it needs to be applied before snow falls. Therefore, weather forecasting services need to be consulted in order to predict as accurately as possible when snow will fall. Weather reports are sent from different places across the country, not only determining the predicted ground temperatures, but when the dew point is reached, helping us to understand at what point to send the gritters out.
Ground temperature is used as air temperatures can often be warmer, especially during a cold snap, when the weather changes and becomes colder. Largely, ground temperature is affected by the angle of sun throughout winter, the amount of sunlight affected by the day length, and the cloud cover (where heavier cloud cover traps heat in).
The dew point is key, as this is the point when the air is too cold for water to form and will instead turn to frost or ice on the ground.
What time do gritters go out?
Gritters tend to go out in the evening when roads are quieter to ensure that the grit isn’t broken down too much, but, if necessary, they will go out earlier. Normally gritters are on the road between 7pm and 4am. Overnight gritting is important, so if snow falls in the early hours of the morning, the roads are cleared and ready for the morning traffic.
However, if you see gritters out during the day, it usually means a cold spell is coming soon, and that snow is forecast sooner than overnight.
As the grit itself needs time to dissolve into the existing damp on the ground, it’s best spread before heavy snowfall or frost, rather than during weather events that can make it less effective.
It’s a really important part of any gritting service to have expert weather forecasting, as it helps to increase the cost efficiency for any client. While it’s better to grit than risk unsafe road conditions, it’s also important to ensure that excess grit is not spread without reason. As companies employ us to help them fulfil their duty of care, we look at regional factors as counties may be affected by snow and ice differently.
The importance of considering gritting early
The earlier people think about gritting the better. Contractors such as Grounds Care Group get very busy during winter, so it’s important to obtain a contract before the cold snap happens and grit becomes key to keeping the roads safe and in-use.
Many gritting contractors have existing routes, and often they may go past your business without realising. Adding your business to their existing route may not be too much trouble, so always enquire early for maximum effectiveness.
Similarly with HSE compliance, all businesses have a duty of care over their employees and visitors to keep them safe from slips, trips and falls, which is why it is important to make sure you have secured these services early, to fulfil risk assessment requirements.