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Danger Signs Ahead

3 March, 2013 | driveway heating, heat mat, heated road sign, road heating, snow melting, walkway heating

Today I am having to work from home because even though it is mid-March, heavy snow throughout last night and this morning has caused traffic gridlock down here in Sussex. One thing that many people are unaware of is that the UK is one of those peculiar countries where climate change is likely to lead to an increase in snowfall. Although the whole of Europe is likely to experience more extreme weather events, due to the UK's maritime climate we need to anticipate more extreme snowfall at unexpected times of the year. Unlike our Continental counterparts the UK finds it much harder to cope with cold conditions. Having spent a significant time in Finland and Scandinavia recently one of the obvious reasons is that over there once winter hits that is it; sub-zero temperatures for months on end so everyone can dig out their studded snow tyres and the roads can easily be cleared as there is no ice, just snow. People know what to expect of the conditions throughout the winter and therefore their infrastructure is built to cope with it. In the UK we have much harder conditions to cope with. Firstly, no two winters are the same so one year can see no snow and temperatures rarely approaching zero, whilst the next could see many weeks of snow and minus ten. This makes it difficult to anticipate the weather for the season ahead, and due to the transient nature of the snowfall it is not worth us investing in the infrastructure to cope with conditions which may only be present for a week or so every few years. Another aspect that is often not recognised is that the UK winter conditions are perfectly set up for black ice. With temperatures hovering around zero snow gets compacted, melts a little and then the water re-freezes as temperatures drop. These are the conditions that can make driving so treacherous here, however over on the Continent they only experience this at either end of the winter as they may experience many months with temperatures not rising to zero. So, where does this leave the UK? We are living in a country where these cold weather events will become more frequent, however winters will still follow their normal pattern with sub-zero temperatures being the exception, rather than the rule. We should all take more precautions to be prepared, all of Heat Mat's vehicles have snow tyres fitted each winter for instance, and make sure our infrastructure is built to better cope. Whether it is heating a driveway, walkway or road, protecting pipes from freezing or installing snow melting systems onto roofs, Heat Mat can help you winter-proof your property to ensure things run smoothly whatever the weather. Finally, on my drive home yesterday in near blizzard conditions one thing I noticed was the number of road signs completely obscured due to the wet snow that has stuck to them in the strong wind. Apart from the risks of people getting lost if signs are unclear, there is also a significant safety issue, with stop signs, speed limit and warning signs all obscured at the same time as road markings are illegible. As for solutions, Heat Mat can offer a very simple one, heat the road sign! Our 240V heaters can be placed directly onto the back of the signs and the reverse of the sign heater is then covered with an insulation layer to ensure minimal heat-loss. The result is a perfectly legible sign whatever the snow conditions.