Friday 18 January 2013

A new Ice Age cometh!

Britain is bracing itself for severe weather after what has been something of a 'phoney winter' of mild temperatures and rain. Parts of the country are already experiencing 'blizzard' conditions and the snow is marching steadily eastwards. If the weather forecasters (and panic mongers) are to be believed this is the beginning of an icy Armageddon which will cause untold travel chaos, widespread disruption, power failures, "cats and dogs living together" and other portents of doom.

We are expecting a maximum of two or three inches of snow where I live. 

Its at times like these that I think most of the rest of Europe are laughing at us (well, more than usual). This is no more than a flurry to them and they seem to function perfectly well with two or three feet of snow. Of course the real problem isn't the snow, its our reaction to it, and our inability to adjust to changing conditions, particularly on the roads. In England we consistently over dramatise the weather and overreact to the predictions but still somehow fail to adapt adequately and appropriately to the conditions on the ground.

Its been snowing in my location east of London for a couple of hours now and we have less than half an inch of snow, although it is getting heavier. I have just sent my staff home early and I'll be going home soon myself. I don't actually consider the conditions here to be that bad and I personally am quite comfortable driving in snow, but there seem to be a lot of utter morons out there that don't adjust their driving speed, regardless of the conditions. Frankly its them, not the weather, that worry me.

Winter motoring can be distilled down to some very simple advice.

  • Take sensible but proportionate precautions and think about your journey. 
  • Listen to local radio for weather and travel reports. 
  • Ensure you have enough antifreeze in your radiator and de-icer in the windscreen washer. 
  • Drive slower and take your time.
  • Use gentler manoeuvres when on snow.
  • Increase your stopping distances and break gently. 
  • Be a little more patient with your fellow road users... 

...and that's it. Simples.

I'll be taking my work laptop home so I can continue there, but I'll also probably get a little painting done as well. Then when the kids get home I'll go and play in the garden and enjoy the snow for the brief time it lasts. In the meantime our European neighbours will be looking across the Channel at their eccentric British cousins and quietly chuckling to themselves.


  1. Sound advice Lee. One thing I would add to the list is to check the tread of your tires to make sure there is enough to actually grip.

    We've got about 2-3 inches here in Tottenham. The most annoying thing for me is that I'm meant to be going to a wargames tournament in Usk this weekend. The snow there isn't too bad and the roads to get there are reasonably clear.

    The big problem is that we're staying a few miles away in Abergavenny where the snow is very deep and the roads aren't so clear. We were meant to be going this evening, but have decided to wait until (very early) tomorrow morning to decide whether or not to risk travelling.

  2. A single flake of snow is nearly enough to stop the whole British Rail network.Oh my God it's the end of the world... Don't panic Mr Mainwaring! Don't Panic! I agree when It comes to snow as a country we are wooses! And the continent are right to laugh at us more than usual. I wish my boss would send me home Early!

  3. Don't worry. We French people have the same problem. OMG! 2 cm of snow ! We can't go to work! Ok, that's what us people living around Paris say. Otherwise, well, they're used to the snow.

    Strangely, it took me an hour to go from Parsons Green to Paddington, with severe delays, simply because there had been a fire in a station... Figures.


  4. When I lived in Fort Worth, Texas, the city would shut down if it snowed maybe half an inch. To a "Yankee" like me from the Alleghenies, I'd just snort and go about my business. Now I live in Canada and I hear of snow out in Manitoba and Alberta in October and temperatures of -20 Celsius... and people still drive like maniacs on the Federal highways!

    It isn't just Europe.

  5. I live in Canada. Every year it's the same thing; first snowfall and there's a bunchof accidents as everyone relearns how to drive in the stuff.

  6. Here it´s always the first couple of days that are chaos..then people get over the "shock" and it settles down to normal. The one thing that I would add to the list..put winter tyres on the vehicle. As Tasmin says, check the tread, it will help but that isn´t the main thing, it´s the type of tyre. Sommer tyres are c**p for driving in even the lightest snow. Here winter tyres are an absolute obligation, if you get caught without them then the fine pretty heavy, cause an matter how small, the fine is massive and even someone drives into insurance payment.

  7. Guys, you made headings in the 9PM news in Spain tonight. The truth is that here we've suffered a similar collapse in traffic in the pats, so we are not so different after all.

  8. Contrary to belief, not all Canadians know how to drive in the snow. Here in Alberta, where the sign of manhood is having a big-ass pickup truck or a 4x4, the vehicles you see in the ditch I mediately after snowstorms are, well, big pickup trucks and 4x4s. Be careful and go slow is always good advice, no matter where you live.

  9. You hit the nail on the head Lee, Britain is never ready for snowfall, and meagre amounts cause choas - the trains stop because its the wrong type of snow on the tracks, the local bus service collapses because they cant manage even moderate hills, and the hospital fill up with old grannies who have slipped and broken their hips in the snow... canadians would laugh at us, its -30 over there...
    Still I never liked the damn stuff either, one of the reason I left ol' blighty... ;-)

  10. Snow , in January , in the Winter.. shock horror... whatever next. You are so right its the other drivers that bother me, not the snow.


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