Apparently we love to talk about the weather in the UK. There’s not many countries which put ‘the weather’ as headline news on the front of their tabloid papers, especially when it’s to be expected (ergo inherently not newsworthy). We live in a temperate maritime climate, with relatively predictable weather patterns, so our fascination with weather is the butt of many a joke from the rest of the world. But what are we to expect this winter? Will it be ‘arctic blasts’? Will we experience ‘the worst winter since records began’? We try and dissect some of the headlines, and see how the weather is going to affect your motoring this season.
Firstly, let’s try and wade through the sensationalist, garbled mess that is the British media. Around two weeks ago, the Daily Express (bastion of all things upper middle class) reported that we would receive “a fierce Arctic blast” which was “poised to bring up to six inches of snow in some areas of Britain next week”. ‘Next week’ arrived with nothing but a definitive ‘chill’ in the air. Just yesterday, the same newspaper claimed “A huge swathe of the country is braced for the gusts, bringing crippling blizzards over high ground in the North. The Met Office last night gave a severe weather warning for much of the country on Thursday”. One can’t help but wonder just how exaggerated these stories will become before we experience even a small flurry of snow. The Met Office has to announce these weather warnings and does so with almost clinical, robotic stance – the extrapolation of this yellow warning (the tamest of the warnings), confined to the north west of Scotland (entirely expected at this time of year) to a “crippling blizzard” really dumbfounds us here at Wheelwright.
As alloy and steel wheel suppliers, we tend to have two main seasons – summer and winter. These serve us two different markets. The summer season is more like a ‘fashion’ period, where people choose to update their wheels like they would their wardrobe – buying a new pair of shoes for the aesthetic benefits more often than functional enhancements. The winter on the other hand, offers us the opportunity to service demand for utilitarian, robust products suitable to be mounted with winter tyres ready to take on these so called ‘arctic’ blasts. Our fascination with the weather here at Wheelwright HQ is entirely to allow us to predict demand – a harsher winter will inherently lead to greater demand for winter wheels and tyres.
The Met Office has categorically denied predicting three months of ‘exceptionally cold weather’ (which had been banded about by some of the British Press), in fact, they have almost admitted that they cannot predict this far into the future accurately and are bemused by these reports. The news reports were based around a Met Office three-month ‘contingency plan’ which stated: “Indications are that December will most likely be colder than average” and that “for December-January-February as a whole uncertainty is quite large but below-average temperatures are more likely than above-average.” This rather vague quote is why weather readers famously don’t always get the weather ‘right’; they can only forecast weather 30 days ahead at best, they emphasised that if there is “any sign of significantly cold weather, they will update the information given to the public accordingly”. Technological advancements move quicker and quicker, but despite various experimental long-term forecasting methods, it remains an inexact science. As for this winter the Met Office is saying that as things stand, December is set to be “fairly normal”.
One has to ask how the British Media is allowed to exaggerate these weather predictions so much. How does a statement about “below average temperatures” become an “arctic blast”? Whilst it serves us as a business to be hearing of weather devastation from these news outlets, we would urge everyone to take it with a pinch of (deicing) salt and not panic about the forthcoming colder months; but to be prepared by getting your vehicle winter ready and preparing to drive in winter conditions.
Source: Wheelwright Blog