There is still a lot of snow on the ground over Ross-shire, it maybe only a partial cover in places towards the coast, but it’s a full cover inland over higher ground. Loch Glascarnoch has been the coldest place in the UK for three nights during this cold spell, and the temperature there at 11 UTC is still only -5.7°C. Why is it that villages in the north of Scotland are never included in any warnings for ice (or snow for that matter)? I realise today it’s very probable that there won’t be further wintry showers, but the snow that fell in the last week or so is still around, and with temperatures as low as they are at the moment ice will be a continuing problem long before this next warning comes into force at 16 UTC today. Why 16 UTC anyway? Sunset perhaps? Most of the villages and hamlets in the Highlands are usually found in low lying straths and glens where the sun may never reach in January, and if it does it may only be for a short time. Of course it all boils down to impacts, and the simple fact is that under the NSWWS the number of people who live up here don’t count for a impact or a warning. The Met Office at one time had a system they called Open Road to monitor road surface temperatures and issue warnings to local authorities for gritting when they fell close to freezing. Over the years I believe they lost most of this service, one they had dominated, to fierce competition from commercial weather service providers. Maybe they don’t have access to the extensive network of road temperature sensors and roadside AWS anymore, that seems likely, because if they did they could then ensure that the right areas received warnings of ice.
Here is a bullet list of criteria that you would have thought were pretty essential before the Met Office issued an ice warning for anywhere in the country:
- Air or ground temperature close to or below 0°C – check (see map)
- Any existing snow or ice cover that could melt and refreeze – check (see photo of the road and pavements outside our house)
- Any precipitation of rain or snow – no.
- More people than sheep – no.