Councils plead to halt theft of rock salt

As we approach Winter, councils throughout the country are appealing to thieves to stop stealing rock salt from the public.

During the severe winter of 2010 councils throughout the country reported theft not only of rock salt but also the grit bins that contain the salt. Thieves have been stealing the salt and selling it back the the public. Below are a number of reports from various councils:

Continue reading… “Councils plead to halt theft of rock salt”


Rock Salt Facts and Figures

Over 2 million tonnes of rock salt is spread onto UK roads each year. The majority is spread on motorways, trunk roads and main roads. Less than a third of other roads are treated.

The operation of salting UK roads costs over £150 million per year. Without salting the delays would cost the economy an estimated £2 billion per year.

Entirely dependent on the weather, expenditure for winter maintenance can vary vastly, making control of budgets very difficult. There can be huge differences between individual area highway maintenance plans.

An act of Parliament passed in 2003 binds local authorities to ensure, “So far as is reasonably practical safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice”.

The introduction of technology to Winter maintenance is now providing methods to review effectiveness and efficiency of service and delivery.

Each year over 1,000 people are killed or seriously injured on icy or snow-covered roads.

A euroRAP (European Road Assessment Programme) survey shows the risk of being killed in a traffic accident in the UK is 5.9 per 100,000 population – the lowest figure of any country in Europe.

UK rock salt mines have around 140 miles of tunnels – the same distance as from London to Brussels.

Many of the towns in the Cheshire area have taken their names from salt production; Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich are three examples: Wych or Wich means Brine town.

The world’s oceans contain a huge amount of salt. If all the Salt was on land it would be enough to cover the UK with a layer 50 miles deep.

Rock salt in the UK was laid down around 200 million years ago when Britain was a shallow inland sea surrounded by desert, near the equator.

The oldest known salt mine is in Xiechi Lake, China and dates back to 6000BC.

Rock salt is the common name for Halite. It is a rock rather than a mineral, this is what makes it different to the salt we use in our food, although it does share many characteristics.


Freak Weather Hits North East America in October

In October a freak snowstorm hit the North East region of the USA.

The snowstorm broke all records for snowfall in October in the region. In one weekend 32 inches of snow fell, knocking power out to an estimated 3 million homes and businesses and with 11 people reportedly killed. In Massachusetts 68 centimetres fell and a state of emergency was declared in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Continue reading… “Freak Weather Hits North East America in October”


Winter World Records

  • The snowiest place on earth is a place called Paradise which is located in The Mount Rainier National Park in Washington USA. In the Winter of 1971 -2 over 93.5 feet or 28.5 meters of snow fell setting a world record for that year.
  • The lowest temperature ever recorded on the surface of the earth was – 89.2 centigrade at the Russian Vostok Station in Antartica on the 21st of July 1983.
  • The world record for the most snow to fall in 1 year is held by Mount Baker in Washington State USA, in the winter of 1998-99 over 95 feet or 29 Meters of snowfall was recorded.
  • The largest snowflake ever recorded was found at Fort Keogh, Montana, USA on January 28th 1887, it was 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick.
  • The Thickest Ice ever recorded is to be found at Wilkes Land in Antartica, the ice reaches a depth of 15,669 feet or 4776 meters.
  • The height of the tallest iceberg ever recorded was 550 feet and was found in the North Atlantic.
  • The largest Iceberg ever recored was found off the coast of Antartica in March 2000, known as Iceberg B15 and measured 183 miles in length and 23 miles wide or 295 Kilometers in length and 37 Kilometers wide and was larger than the island of Jamaica.

UK Winter Statistics

Here are a few UK Winter statistics:

  • There are 3000 gritting lorries in the UK.
  • Each council spread an average of 3,900 tonnes of grit salt in 2010.
  • 1.4 million tonnes of grit salt is expected to be stockpiled in the UK for Winter 2011.
  • In the UK we get on average 33 days of snow or sleet fall per annum.
  • The snowiest place in the UK is Banffshire in Scotland which on average experiences 63.8 days of snow or sleet per annum.
  • The least snowiest place in the UK is Cornwall which as an average of only 10.2 days of snow and sleet per annum.
  • Only 3% of vehicles in the UK are fitted with winter tyres compared tp 10 % in Holland and 50% in Germany.
  • 600 accidents involving heavy goods lorries in 2010 were directly caused by snow and ice.
  • On Friday the 17th December 2010, 2000 schools throughout the UK were closed due to the Winter weather. On the same day the AA reported call outs of 1500 per hour.
  • In 2009 the UK insurance industry paid out £644 million to businesses and homeowners for water causing damage due to burst pipes.

Cold countries – How they deal with snow and ice

Dealing with severe winter weather conditions in the UK is a challenge for the country as a whole but how do other countries deal with winters that stretch over two hundred days throughout the year and snow drifts can be as deep as 10 or 15 feet deep, here are a few snippets from various countries around the world explaining how they counteract the conditions: Continue reading… “Cold countries – How they deal with snow and ice”


How to keep warm this Winter – Department of Health UK

To keep warm and well during periods of cold weather:

  • Keep curtains drawn and doors closed to block out draughts.
  • Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
  • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer).
  • Keep as active as possible.
  • Wrap up warm if you need to go outside on cold days.

Continue reading… “How to keep warm this Winter – Department of Health UK”


Snow Warden Scheme – Volunteers helping out

The UK Snow Warden Scheme is a community volunteer programme whereby local councils train a number of volunteers in residential areas to help clear snow and ice from side roads and pavements. The idea originated in Canada with a group of volunteers known as the Snow Angels.

Volunteers are trained in Health and Safety and are issued with the equipment to enable them to carry out the job effectivly. The equipment consists of a shovel, flourescent jacket and gloves, grit salt and in some instances a grit bin if required.

Snow Wardens are a great help to the council and  local community they live in, during bad weather many quieter roads don’t get gritted, with Snow Wardens helping clear these roads with the help of friends and neighbours, this enables the council to focus on priority routes.

Snow Wardens also provide information to their local council regarding the effect the weather has had in their area’s.

Most councils throughout the UK are now running this scheme and anyone wishing to join simply needs to call their local council to make a request to become a volunteer.


Council Gritters Prepare For Winter

As we move further into the Winter months, councils around the country are gearing up to tackle the ensuing harsh weather.

Millions of pounds are spent every year by councils stocking up on huge amounts of Grit Salt to spread on the road networks within their region.

Councils rely on a network of strategicly placed sensors feeding back information about road temperatures, consistant weather updates and predictive temperature simulations to ensure their gritting teams treat the road network with Grit Salt at the correct time. Continue reading… “Council Gritters Prepare For Winter”


Preparing Your Car For Winter

It is important with the onset of Winter that you prepare your car for the cold weather. Here are our tips to ensure your vehicle is ready for the ensuing snow and ice:

  • Ensure you have your car regularly serviced. An ideal time would be in Autumn, just befor the onset of Winter.
  • Check your brake system is in good working order, this is paramount in Winter.
  • Ensure your tyres have adequate tread, if you need to replace them, do so, even if the tread is above the legal required limit allowed. This will provide you with the performance you need to tackle the harsh weather. The better the tread, the better the grip on snow and ice. We would also recommend fitting Winter specific tyres, as they provide superior performance in cold weather conditions.
  • Check the battery and ensure it is in good working order.
  • Check all lights and ensure they are working correctly, especially the hazard warning lights.
  • Check windscreen wipers and replace if need be.
  • Check the screen wash is not blocked and working correctly, add anti-freeze to the screen wash bottle.
  • Ensure all ventilation and heating systems are in working order to minimise misting on the windows.
  • Rock salt spread on roads during winter can be corrosive and can damage the cars paintwork. Ensure you wash and clean off the rock salt on the more vunerable parts of your car on a regualer basis.

Whenever driving in Winter weather, you must be prepared for the unexpected. To ensure both the safety of yourself and other road users, it is advisable to carry out a quick visual check on your vehicle before every journey throughout the season.