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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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