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Weather - popular questions answered

Answers to popular questions about how we monitor the weather and make decisions about treating the borough's roads in winter conditions.

How do we know when ice and snow is on the way?

We monitor the weather conditions 24 hours a day throughout the highways winter service season. We receive data from our weather stations within the borough and detailed forecasts from the Met Office and make our gritting treatment decisions based on the details provided. We may also visually inspect the roads to verify the information we have from the weather stations and Met Office.

How many weather stations does the council have and where are they?

We have 2 weather stations: 1 in Middleton and the other on Blackstone Edge. Both weather stations constantly monitor the weather and road conditions. The information from these and other nearby weather stations help us monitor the conditions and react accordingly.

Why do we need 2 weather stations?

The borough of Rochdale covers the lower lying areas of Middleton, Heywood and Rochdale centre, but also covers the higher areas in the Pennines. Due to the varying geography across the borough, its climate and weather conditions can vary greatly. The weather stations cover both extremes of the climatic zones and the data they provide help us react to the varying conditions across the borough.

What is freezing rain?

Freezing rain is a rare but exceptionally dangerous condition. It occurs when rain (from clouds in warmer air aloft), falls through a layer of air with a temperature below freezing. The supercooled raindrops do not freeze immediately, but only after contact with a surface, for example roads, trees and cars.

Because the rain does not freeze until hitting something, the ice that forms is of the classic 'black' kind (a clear sheet ice). It can build up very quickly, and covers the complete road surface (freezing on contact does not allow run-off). Freezing rain tends to occur at the end of a cold spell, when most surfaces are below freezing, but milder air is pushing in.