Five Questions On The ‘Beast From The East’

Summer is fast drawing to a close. As we approach Winter 2018-19, here Vicky Lopez answers five questions about last winter…

Q – Why was last winter ‘record breaking’ for De-ice?

Last winter was record breaking across the board. In our 20 years of operation it was our most challenging one yet. This was thanks to three major snow events all rolled into one season, which saw some counties cut off completely. De-Ice’s snow ploughs were out in full force with a reported 1500+ hours operation across Britain.

It was also a long season; with winter starting in early November 2017 and going through until mid April 2018. But it wasn’t all cold, it was punctuated with some very mild temperatures.

Q – Were you ready for the Beast for from the East or did it catch you out?

Yes, we were ready. Every year, we make sure we are fully prepared right from the outset of the winter (October), and we provided a comprehensive service to our clients

However, following on from the impact of last winter there was the stark realisation that for some people there is only a finite resource. When we see sustained long periods of cold weather and snowfall, we have to rely on the bank of machinery and manpower which is available. When it came to providing winter service, the main issues were due to council road closures, which often presented real challenges.

Q – What lessons have been learned from this winter?

Winter 2018-19 was unprecedented. Any newcomers to the world of winter gritting will have experienced a very steep learning curve.

Many companies are now beginning to appreciate the levels of investment they need to put into place to ensure they have the right solutions and support.

And when the snow hits, it’s really a case of appreciating that one size does not fit all.

Q – Do you think next winter will another severe one?

Yes, I think it will be. Weather patterns and cycles, coupled with my 20 years’ experience tell me we could be in for another couple of harsh winters.

Q – What advice would you offer FMs?

Engage with your suppliers early and be honest about your expectations. It is also a case of being willing to invest – to ensure you have the right levels of support in place, to include major snow events.  As with most things ultimately you get what you pay for – forecasting, tracking, real time reporting, quality machinery and products coupled with a industry specialist company does come at a cost, however, this does not mean it shouldn’t reflect value for money.