Winter Gritting Experts

How MetDesk Issues GRITIT's Winter Forecasts With Pinpoint Accuracy

December 03, 2019

With over 100 years of operational winter maintenance forecasting experience and an unrivaled knowledge of the how atmospheric processes and the radiation balance affect surface temperatures and surface conditions, GRITIT's weather forecasters MetDesk have moved road surface forecasting on to a new level of accuracy and the fruits of this are visible in the pinpoint accuracy that the unique 9km road forecasting provides.

GRITIT uses Metdesk as its weather provider of choice because Metdesk operates the only weather forecasting system purpose built to provide the UK’s winter gritting contractors with cutting edge meteorology, innovative delivery platforms and informed advice from its dedicated meteorology team.

Informed weather forecasts

metdeskMetdesk's weather forecasting is forecaster edited and quality controlled. Human intervention and expertise adds value and accuracy to a forecast - MetDesk never issues forecasts which are direct and solely model output, unlike other forecasters which do not modify their computer modelling with expert input. As a GRITITcustomer, you can therefore be assured of the very best forecast accuracy. Furthermore, our specialist forecasters are aware of the forecast which has been issued and the current meteorological situation, and can always be relied upon to give more detail as and when required.

Better forecast performance on amber nights

MetDesk's informed forecasting means better performance on marginal (amber) nights which are the nights that matter the most in the winter gritting business. MetDesk's higher forecaster to client ratio than other providers means that MetDesk forecasters have time to produce your forecast properly, and in great detail. The end result is a forecast and winter gritting service that keeps your sites safe and maximises the environmental credentials of our winter gritting on your behalf by ensuring that we use the precise amount of salt required rather than overcompensating for poor reliability by using more than necessary.

Better forecast performance during snow

MetDesk has developed its own bespoke forecast algorithm to calculate accumulated snow/snow melt on the road surface. This means that the forecast you get is relevant to your gritting operation and what will actually happen on the road surface. The forecast addresses the difference between snow falling and snow accumulating using Metdesk's proprietary radiation balance equation. 

The radiation balance of a surface represents the balance of shortwave gains and losses and longwave gains and losses - this radiation balance changes throughout the day and year owing to incoming solar radiation, cloud cover and the slope of the surface, which affects the amount of solar radiation absorbed. Combined with Metdesk's granular regionalisation, the radiation balance equation prevents overreaction to conditions yet maintains a completely safe network for GRITIT clients.

UK-tailored weather service

MetDesk is a UK based development and forecast team that is in direct contact with client requirements throughout the UK. This means that client requirements are communicated effectively and that services are based on what UK clients need, unlike other forecasters for whom UK clients are not their primary focus. In the UK, the MetDesk Road model forecasts include: 
  • High resolution weather input based on global/regional model blends – MetDesk sources its multi model data from a range of sources including ECMWF, the UK Met Office and GFS. In other words, Metdesk is not tied to the forecasts made solely by one provider or model, and continuously tests its forecasts and data against the widest possible pool of weather data available. 
  • MetDesk’s ECMWF input data is the highest resolution available and Metdesk is the only private sector weather business in the UK that also runs ECMWF’s 9km weather forecast through its road forecasting model. Additional data is provided by mesoscale weather forecasting models, on a high resolution grid across the UK. Meso-scale Models are used to predict smaller scale detail. These forecasts come into two broad categories; those run by National Met Services and those run by private sector firms. 

9km forecast model

The ECMWF 9km forecasting model uses a grid with up to 904 million prediction points, meaning that the weather can now be predicted with more detail, with greater accuracy and, as a result, up to half a day further ahead. This new cycle reduces the horizontal grid spacing for high-resolution forecasts from 16 km to just 9 km, whilst  ensemble forecasts, which describe the range of possible weather scenarios and the likelihood of their occurrence, are now at 18 km up to forecast day 15 and 36 km thereafter.


In short, MetDesk is able to offer the most experienced forecaster team within the direct area of winter FM, road and rail forecasting in the UK. GRITIT is not only the country’s largest winter services specialist, but also ensures the highest delivery rates in the industry with services such as MetDesk to ensure that we continue to exceed our clients’ expectations.

Accurate weather forecasting is fundamental to our gritting service and has a huge impact on effective service delivery. As an example, Highways England operates to 85% weather reporting accuracy, whereas our weather forecaster, MetDesk, boasts an impressive 97.8%. In addition, other winter services suppliers may be satisfied with air temperature predictions for winter forecasting, however, as explained above, GRITIT uses higher granularity bespoke local quadrant road temperature analysis, developed for use in logistics and transportation.

Contact us for more information

The extremes of recent years have demonstrated the unpredictability of winter weather in the UK. If you're responsible for a portfolio of buildings, facilities, business or retail parks, this can make it challenging to budget for the costs of winter services. At GRITIT, we offer a breadth of commercial arrangements with the flexibility to meet the needs of your business. Pay for gritting and/or snow clearance only when needed with a cost per visit (CPV) arrangement that ensures you only pay when the weather conditions trigger a visit. For more cost predictability, fixed price deals for the winter are ideal and ensure peace of mind that no matter how harsh the winter, you will only pay the agreed price.

More Information 

This covers all visits for winter gritting and/or snow and ice clearance when the agreed weather condition trigger is reached. For clients seeking a hybrid model that combines elements of both arrangements we can create a tailored commercial plan. We can also work with you to customise the triggers for visits according to the exact temperature or snow conditions that meet your requirements – and advise on best practice for doing so while keeping your sites safe.

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