News

Spencer Matthews King of the Snow Hill

Posted on: March 15, 2017

Conqueror of the Austrian ice and snow
Congratulations to Spencer Matthews for proving that, when it comes to winter sports, the British are as game as any other nation. If you don’t quite recognise the name, he is one of the stars of Made in Chelsea who this week proved he had what it takes to win Channel 4’s The Jump title.

So-called celebrities have had to compete over the last few weeks in a variety of winter sports where their common enemy was the snow and ice of Innsbruck in Austria. Ski-ing, the skeleton bob, snow cross, ski aerobatics, ski cross and the infamous ski-jump were amongst the disciplines the competitors had to face.

Ski-jump record for Matthews
Matthews upset the odds and soared past Olympic gymnast Louis Smith with the last ski jump of the series landing at 18.98m, beating Smith by 93cm and also breaking The Jump’s all-time record that was previously held by actor Sid Owen, who played ‘Ricky in EastEnders.

Whilst impressive for a novice ski jumper Matth

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Ice phenomena - Pancake ice and flammable ice bubbles

Posted on: March 7, 2017

Whilst ice on the roads and pavements can be a real danger if not gritted professionally, occasionally ice, in its most natural state, can be a beauty to behold. Like these two ice phenomena.

Ice pancakes
These can be found in rivers and the open sea. They form when foam floating on a river freezes. These frozen chunks are then shaped by being rubbed against one another in eddies of water to form beautiful pancake shapes fit for Shrove Tuesday. They are often spotted on Scottish rivers.

Flammable ice bubbles
Beautiful on the outside but hazardous on the inside, these frozen bubbles are really frozen pockets of methane, a highly flammable gas, that can explode at any given time. Often found on Alberta’s Lake Abraham in the US, they occur where dead leaves or animals fall into the water. Bacteria attacks them and ejects the methane in the form of bubbles which then freeze when they comes into contact with the frozen water. 

Book your winter gritting
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There is snow on the grass so get the lawn mower out

Posted on: February 21, 2017

Snow racing in Finland
As bizarre as it may seem, that’s exactly what happens in Finland every year when the 12-hour Leikkuri LeMans lawn mower Grand Prix is run.

Estonian ice queens triumph
And this year, battling tough conditions, two Estonian women slid to victory. Anna and Stella from the Estonian lawn mower Team Votikmetsa Naised crossed the line in first place, taking great pleasure in beating their male compatriots.

The race was held outside the rural town of Lavia in southern Finland on the frozen Lake Karhijarvi, 124 miles north east of Helsinki and attracted competitors from Switzerland, Germany, UK, Estonia and of course Finland. Drivers had 12 hours to complete as many laps as possible around the 850 metre course.

With temperatures dropping as low as -4 degrees Celsius, conditions were challenging. Britain's Going Commando team led the race for four hours before punctures forced them into the pits.

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New invention helps cars to get a grip in the snow

Posted on: February 15, 2017

Driving in snow and ice
One of the hardest things we have to encounter as drivers is dealing with snow and ice on the road. If there is a sudden dump of snow or a hard freeze that hits us before the snow ploughs can clear the roads or the gritters can treat the ice, it leaves with a dilemma of how best to make our journeys. 

Snow chains or snow tyres are an obvious solution but because we are not certain when, or if, it will snow, we tend not to invest in them. 

However, there is now a potential new solution on its way.

New device to replace snow chains
After struggling one night to get snow chains on his tyres on a snowy mountain, Czech businessman Petr Gross decided he needed to come up with something that did the job better. So, he has developed a new device that could revolutionise driving safely in the snow and ice.

He has invented a mechanized system that fits over the wheel of a vehicle like a hubcap which can be easily fitted before settin

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When snow means speeding up not slowing down

Posted on: January 31, 2017

The thirst for speed on snow
For most of us in this country, when the snow falls it means things slow up or even come to a standstill, especially on the roads. But whilst driving conditions are potentially treacherous before the snow clearance begins, there are some individuals who see snow as a challenge to go as fast as they can. Fortunately, they’re not on the road.

We are talking about speed skiers. If you thought World Cup downhill skiers were fast, you should check out this elite bunch of individuals who regularly hit speeds in excess of 250kph (150mph).  

Faster on snow than terminal velocity
Speed skiing is the sport of skiing downhill in a straight line as quickly as possible. The current world record holder is Italian Ivan Origone who recorded a speed of 254.958kph (158.424 mph) in March 2016 which, amazingly, is faster than the terminal velocity of a free-falling skydiver in the belly-to-earth position - about 190 kph (120 mph) – and he’s the fastest non-motorised human on earth.

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Seeing out through the ice

Posted on: January 25, 2017

January has proved to be a very cold and icy month so far, giving drivers a frost to start to the day. Dealing with a frozen windscreen and windows first thing in the morning can create an unwanted delay on the daily commute or school run but it’s vital to make sure that you can see clearly before driving.

The Highway Code is very clear on what you should do before setting off:

You MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from ALL your windows
You MUST ensure that your lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible
You MUST make sure your mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly

Because not all roads are gritted, it also warns that stopping distances can be up to ten times greater on icy roads compared to dry roads so keeping your distance from the vehicle in fro

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Thundersnow expected in UK

Posted on: January 11, 2017

Earlier this week, the Met Office issued a yellow warning for Scotland, Northern Ireland and North West England, that could then extend further south into Wales and the East of England, about the potential for high winds and snow. As well plummeting temperatures, up to 75 mph winds and blizzard conditions, it forecast the potential for ‘thundersnow’.

This unfamiliar condition occurs where rain that is normally associated with a thunderstorm falls as snow because the air temperature is so cold. The Met Office reported that cold air originating over Arctic Canada is responsible and that it will create very active, vigorous wintry showers that could be accompanied by thunder and lightning to make quite a spectacular sight.

Because the snow will fall in showers it makes snow clearance much more challenging and could lead to some very tricky driving conditions. Overnight frosts will also contribute to what promises to be a very icy end of the week underfoot.

Councils up and down the country, especially where the mor

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Sleighs in the snow

Posted on: December 20, 2016

One of the world’s most iconic modes of transport is undoubtedly Santa’s sleigh – packed with presents for the children of the world. And, as he prepares his sleigh for this year’s trip around the globe, we thought it timely to take a brief look at the role the humble sleigh plays in helping us to negotiate the winter snow and ice.

A sleigh, also referred to as a sled or sledge, is defined as primarily a land vehicle with either a smooth underside or having a separate body supported by two or more smooth, relatively narrow, runners that travels by sliding across ice or compact snow. When we talk of a sleigh we tend to refer to a larger vehicle like those that often feature in Christmas films pulled by horses for snowy sightseeing around New York’s Central Park or by dogs transporting cargo in the Arctic Circle. But in Scandinavia, sleighs are often pulled by reindeer.

In Britain, where snowfall often means playtime for children and adults alike, a sledge or toboggan is more commonly associated with careering down snow covered hil

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Icy roads at 32 degrees

Posted on: December 14, 2016

Not as daft as it sounds – because that’s exactly what happens if you use Fahrenheit rather than Celsius as your measure of temperature.

There is a saying that if you use Fahrenheit as your scale ‘0 degrees F is really cold and 100 degrees F is really hot’, whereas with Celsius, ‘You're cold at 0 degrees C and dead at 100 degrees C’.

But why do most countries and organisations nowadays use Celsius as opposed to Fahrenheit? One reason is that Celsius is scientifically easier to measure because zero is the freezing point of water and 100 degrees is the boiling point. But those who favour Fahrenheit point to its greater scale and range enabling more accurate measurement without having to resort to fractions or decimal places.

Fahrenheit was the accepted measure of temperature until the 1960s when Celsius began being adopted. In all but three countries of the world - Liberia, Burma and the United States – the standard for the measurement of temperature is Celsius. So where did these two scales emanate fro

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Dangers of black ice

Posted on: December 6, 2016

Now that we are officially in meteorological winter, it’s time to look at some of the winter weather issues you’ll have to deal with over the next few months – black ice being one of them.

Hard-to-spot on a wintry morning and one of the most dangerous conditions for motorists, just what is black ice?

Well, it's a glaze that forms on surfaces and is referred to as black ice because it tends to look like the rest of the pavement or road, although in reality, it's actually clear.  Black ice forms when the air is zero degrees Celsius or below at the surface and there is rain in the air. The ground temperature causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact, thus creating ice. Sleet and the refreezing of snow or water can also generate black ice. 

Black ice forms without creating bubbles, which allows it to blend in with any surface it forms over. It is dangerous precisely because it's hard to detect in advance.

The prime times for the formation of this type of ice are the early morning a

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