Winter Gritting Experts

Summer Gritting

June 21, 2019

Gritting isn't normally an activity that most people would associate with summer, but with seasonal high pressure fronts making their way across the northern hemisphere, all it takes is a few days of clear sunshine and you'll start to see council teams of winter gritters deployed to protect the melting roads from the summer sunshine.

hot summer gritting

Protecting summer roads

Salt doesn't just melt ice and provide traction in freezing conditions, but can also be used to stop asphalt from melting.

Salt attracts moisture from the ambient air and cools the asphalt; it also removes excess moisture from the asphalt itself making it less sticky.

During hot sticky summer weeks with high temperatures, heavy traffic at roundabouts in particular can tear the softened asphalt from the road surface.

Spreading salt in summer is one option, but another one is to spread a dust layer of hard stone.

The hard stone absorbs the soft bitumen, and stabilizes the surface of the road.

Different councils and countries adopt different methods: Europeans use salt during a heatwave but the British tend to spread a crushed rock dust layer.

The latter is more popular with motorists using older cars that might not take kindly to salt.

Road temperature

GRITIT's weather centre monitors road temperatures throughout the nation, and we've observed that when road temperatures get beyond the 40 degrees Celsius mark, British road surfaces become vulnerable to melting and without some proactive measure, can start to deteriorate.

In laboratory tests, road surface material do withstand temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius, but during any mini heatwave the temperature can go as high as 55 degrees Celsius.

Summer gritting in 2018

In the long hot record-breaking summer of 2018, summer gritters were out in Scotland, Cumbria, Lancashire, Doncaster and Hampshire together with many parts of the continent, notably The Netherlands.

According to RAC spokesman Simon Williams: “Many motorists could be forgiven for thinking the sight of gritters on the road in the summer is a mirage caused by the heat.

"But they should actually be relieved councils have taken action as road surfaces could easily suffer hard-to-repair long-term damage."

"And with many local roads already in a dire state from the harsh winter weather, this is the last thing drivers and their vehicles need."

"Motorists who find sticky tar on their vehicles are advised to wash it off with warm soapy water."

So in summary, gritting isn't just a sight that you can expect in winter, but as temperatures increase due to climate change, the sight of gritters working the UK summer might not be such an unusual scene.




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