Snow Days

Image may contain: one or more people, snow, tree, outdoor and nature

What is going on with this snow reaction these days,really? Tuning into to a local radio station today, they are issuing ominous warnings and instructions similar to if there is going to be a war on or a disaster zone tomorrow. They provide a ‘hot line’ to the travel companies, the utility companies, school closures and so on.

The local newspaper too warns us that along with the normal disruption:

There’s a ‘good chance’ that rural communities could become cut off.

There’s a ‘potential risk’ to life and property

Along with an extensive emergency kit in our cars we are to take sunglasses due to ‘winter glare’

I do take heavy snow seriously and also understand full well its dangers, particularly to the more vulnerable who I have great sympathy with, having spent plenty of winter stretches in Canada with serious blizzards and snowfall (by the way, there is no adequate and full preparation to the type of winter conditions they experience in my humble opinion, as people elsewhere always seem to think). I feel though that there is a certain amount of sensationalising these situations here in the UK which helps nobody.

Time to calm this stuff down, report the facts and stop spreading panic

Snow Day

Well here we are. In a much more traditional winter here in the UK, snow has finally hit Nottinghamshire which is something of a rarity in itself these days. More usually there is an annual smattering of the white stuff maybe one or two days a year and little more. Sometimes I imagine I must be dreaming of times  from the past when we experienced ‘real’ snow here in the East Midlands city, so rare have those occasions been for so long now.

As I write, the UK appears to have hit a state of pandemonium regarding this sudden winter ‘event’ as the TV weather people like to term it these days. There is certainly much excitement!

It’s easy for me to say of course, Nottingham still experiences much less snow than many other parts of the UK for some reason. Televised scenes from around the country bear that out of today too but to my mind the reaction to the snow is nothing short of hysterical. This may be because I’ve experienced quite a few Canadian winters with their bitter temperatures, blizzards and huge snow banks that gather through the colder months, and the way that Canadians just deal with it. I don’t think so though. I see a big difference in our reaction to it here in the UK than times when I was younger. There is little comparison. I note from today’s news that whilst around ten Nottinghamshire schools are reportedly closed today there are around 250 closures in the Leicestershire region alone. You know in my school days I remember many days of deep snow but never do I remember my school being closed because of it, nor even sent home early.

A near-deserted Old Market Square, in Nottingham today. Note the .0005mm of snow covering

During a live magazine programme on TV this morning one of the co-presenters actually couldn’t make it to the studio for broadcasting duties due to the weather. What followed was a live telephone call from him and his co-presenter  proceeding to continue with the show whilst cupping a hot drink to her face like she’d just been to the Arctic Circle, not merely across London with a few inches of snow on the ground. Similarly, another live TV programme at lunchtime actually had the panel of ‘celebrities’ applauding the audience for making it to the studio! Just ludicrous!

Have we all gone so soft nowadays that we can’t put up with a little winter weather? Is it the Health and Safety laws? I’m sure both have some contribution to make. Meanwhile the local authorities appear to place their heads firmly in the sand (or should that be snow?) and hope that the problem just won’t happen. A general inadequacy in clearing the snow is often tabled at the local councils, probably because they gamble on it not happening and don’t budget enough for when it does. Another question, why are many bus services not running? I never recall this from years ago when we had much more serious falls of snow.

I actually accept the snow as part of what a winter is all about. I’m prepared to get on with things and unlikely to let it stop me doing anything much that I normally would. I don’t think that’s such an unusual stance. I actually like to see the stuff, it makes something of a change from the boring, drab grey winters we normally experience here in England! At least it offers a topic of conversation I suppose…

The difference with REAL snow

Many people here in the UK remark to me about the Canadian winter climate . They often say things like ‘yes, but it’s a different kind of cold’ or ‘but Canadians dress for it’ – that type of thing. I always feel that there is an element of truth in those kinds of statements but at the same time they over-simplify what, to British people, would often be a barbaric set of winter conditions. My partner largely hails from Edmonton, Alberta – a Province that is no stranger to harsh winter conditions. I’ve not experienced the very coldest temperatures in Edmonton – the mercury only dropping to a balmy  -30C at the worst during my many stays. It’s not rare to have a savage -40c plus another -20c of wind chill. When walking downtown in particular, as soon as the wind rises a few miles per hour it feels like it’s going to cut you in half.

Anyway , I slightly digress. Here’s a story I spotted on the BBC site today. It may seem pretty extreme by UK standards but it’s not such an unusual story by Canadian standards. Why, the last time I was in Edmonton over the holiday, a poor chap perished on the front door step of his own home having locked himself out on New Year’s Eve. You just don’t take any chances with Canadian winters…

Canada woman survives snow burial

Driving the White Stuff

So the snows return, if not to Nottingham at this time. Maybe the city will perform it’s regular trick of avoiding the worst that winter can throw at the UK. Other people have not been as fortunate though, in particular Northern Ireland which appears to be recording record falls. Snow is fine when we can stay at home and enjoy it’s mystery and beauty, the other side of the coin can be much grimmer however, especially for those caught in difficult situations on the roads. I can empathise because I’ve had a couple of reasonably terrifying situations in Canada in the blizzards to deal with. Continue reading “Driving the White Stuff”