It is the middle of August in 2018 and I am in a small town in the Swiss Alps called Leysin. Beautifully situated in the mountains and not far from Lake Geneva, the temperatures here are in the mid-20s during the day, only to drop down to single digits at night. Leysin has a humid continental climate with annual precipitation averaging 1,481 mm, which equals more than twice that of London. Because the village is situated at an altitude of 1,565 m above sea level the average annual temperature is only 3.9°C.
Peter Gibbs chats to Paul Knightley, Forecast Manager at MeteoGroup, to find out about forecasting winter weather and supplying road weather services to local councils. He then visits the Highways Depot in Berkshire to chat to the Principal Engineer and a Shift Supervisor to find out how those forecasts are used to inform their gritting operations:
Clear nights and plunging temperatures can deposit a thick frost by daybreak. For frost to form, the temperature of the surface must be below 0°C. But what causes these pretty, leaf-like patterns? The patterns are the result of very tiny imperfections on the glass, such as scratches, specks of dust and salt, or the residue from washer fluid. These variations in the surface affect the way that the ice crystals form and branch out, forming the beautiful patterns captured in this image, taken in North Yorkshire on an smartphone by Paula Davies.
The cold snap that hit South Africa in June, leading to incessant moaning from English football commentators who had failed to pack appropriately for the World Cup, had a far more malign impact on the nation's wildlife than it did on its showpiece sporting event. Around 600 African penguins, already an endangered species, were killed by the icy temperatures, heavy rain and significant wind chill over a two day period in mid-June on Bird Island, Algoa Bay in Eastern Cape province. The victims were mainly young chicks whose downy feathers provide scant protection against the elements.