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28 February, 2005

What a way to go

Over the past week, parts of the UK have been experiencing "heavy" snowfall*, but here in Lancaster we haven't even received a light dusting.  I believe it's partly due to proximity to the Irish Sea, but even if snow falls, it's extraordinary for significant amounts to stick.  Elsewhere, though, there have been deaths.  A man in Yorkshire died last week after sledging into a tree, and, bizarrely, a child died at the weekend after being crushed by a snowball.

A snowball weighing a quarter of a tonne.

*: I put "heavy" in quotes because in global terms the UK has received a trivial quantity of snow; it's just that our infrastructure and common sense simply aren't geared up to real winter weather, so a light dusting causes problems and a couple of feet brings everything to a standstill.


Do you remember that time that the M11 had about a half-inch covering, and motorists got stranded for up to 12 hours?

Posted by Siobhan at February 28, 2005 06:12 PM

My father lives in Norway, so I'm probably a bit more accustomed to the interaction of a modern society with real winter conditions than most Brits. Road salt? Grit? Nope, studded tyres! Snow ploughs clear the top layers of snow, but there's no messing about trying to clear the road down to the tarmac meltwater would merely refreeze and be even more dangerous.

More to the point, people know how to behave in such conditions. With studded tyres, it's perfectly safe to drive over several inches of compacted snow, at sensible speeds, whereas UK drivers try to cross the Pennines on standard road tyres at the same speeds they'd drive in mid-summer there seems to be no comprehension of how to react to the conditions.
Norwegians routinely carry a snow shovel and warm clothing in their cars. I wonder how many of those stranded motorists were adequately prepared. Perhaps Brits are too reliant on 'the authorities' to render winter tidily unobtrusive, so people can continue as if nothing was different outside their cocooned little existences.

Rant narrowly averted!

Posted by NRT at February 28, 2005 06:56 PM
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