Meteorological or Astronomical – it’s winter

As a cold snap starts the Meteorological winter, December’s blog from Gloucestershire Gritting sorts some of the facts from the excitable stories and suggests why it’s worthwhile to be prepared.


THE day in our calendar that marks the first day of winter (21st December) usually refers to the astronomical seasons which are a result of the Earth’s axis and orbit around the sun.

However, most forecasters and news outlets prefer to use a meteorological definition of the seasons.  These are based on annual temperature cycles that coincide with our calendar to determine a clear transition and an equal length of three months to our seasons.  Using meteorological seasons makes it easier for meteorological observing and for forecasters to compare seasonal and monthly statistics. Using the meteorological calendar, winter always starts on 1 December and next year will end on 28 February 2019.

This year, the start of the meteorological winter has once again been accompanied by excitable press reports of snow and ice and dire warnings.  But before we dismiss these warnings too readily it is important to remember that the cold weather can be a killer, especially for older people and people with long term health conditions.

The Met Office provides the public with a number of forecasts including Nowcasting 0-6 hours, Short-range 1 to 3 days, Medium-range 3 to 10 days and Extended-range 10-30 days.  Its website and apps are a useful resource for anyone wanting to know about the weather – always a talking point in Britain.

It also provides a whole range of weather services and specialist forecasts.  Gloucestershire Gritting, as part of Nurture Gritting Ltd, uses the Met Office OpenSite weather forecast information service.  This is tailored specifically for independent gritting operations across the UK, and indeed Ireland and the rest of Europe.

By using OpenSite we can help keep car parks, access roads and footpaths open and free of winter hazards.  It allows businesses to maximise operational efficiency by better managing resources.

We help businesses minimise irregular costs such as salt and grit.  Using OpenSite, forecast sites are scientifically matched to our locations, so Gloucestershire Gritting can treat when and where it is needed.  The forecasts do not rely on observation data so are provide the same scientific level of accuracy wherever your site may be located.

From a business perspective this adds up to improved safety, a reduced risk of potential litigation and productivity maintained throughout the year.

Our 24-hour forecast can be split into one and three-hour time segments across the 24-hour period.  It forecasts the road surface temperature (RST), road states, rainfall total, snow and ice for each time segment. We particularly love the hazard colours (red/orange/yellow/green) which give us an instant assessment of when and where we need to take action.

On top of this level of scientific accuracy, Gloucestershire Gritting knows the personal touch is so important and very local variations or circumstances can sometimes lead to a different trigger point.  We are proud of providing that flexibility for our customers.  Customers can set a different trigger level and indeed ask for a service to be cancelled, at their own risk of course.

“Our first-rate service means that customers stay with us year after year,” says Gloucestershire Gritting’s managing director, John Tingey, highlighting the importance of the personal touch alongside the efficiency of automated services.

With the start of the meteorological winter, John reflects that Gloucestershire Gritting teams across Swindon and Gloucestershire have already been called out twice in November and have been triggered again on 3 December.  The medium-term forecast is predicting a further cold spell in the second week of December.

So the question is: We’re prepared are you?

Contact John now on 07970 946329 or email for a free, no-obligation site visit and quote.