Blog: Dave LeggettSnow, really

Dave Leggett | 8 February 2007

I guess I am no spring chicken. I've been around a few years and I've heard most things before, even if I'm not always sure where.

Here in southern England we have had around 6cm of snow in the last 24 hours and it has caused the usual travel chaos, closed schools etc. But really folks, that is to be expected, so let's stop the complaining ('doesn't happen in Switzerland' 'why aren't we geared up like other countries?' etc). We've been here many, many times before. It happens about once a year.

This morning's snowfall was the only significant snowfall we have had all winter, which has been one of the warmest ever (so far). But we don't get much snow, as a rule, anyway - the Gulf Stream sees to that. Britain has a mild, maritime climate. Therefore, the sizeable investments necessary to lessen the impact of outlier extreme winter weather are not made - and they shouldn't be.

This is not Michigan or Moscow where the cold weather is a banker. The fuss we make about the snow is a part of that - it's highly unusual for us. We don't need to pay for ranks of snow ploughs for the roads standing idle only to be used on one, maybe two days of the year. There is a similar argument applying to the railways (do we want Network Rail spending on more snow ploughs and sending railway ticket prices even higher? - I think not).

As for the schools, I get tired of hearing 'why are they shut?'. Yes, peeps, your kids may be able to get to the school okay with the help of that SUV (bravo! - now you know you need a 4x4, of course), but the problem lies mainly with teachers who tend to live outside the catchment area and some of whom have fairly long commuter journeys (the junior ones in battered Ford Fiestas). It's hardly their fault that they are not within walking distance of their place of work or own 4x4s, is it?. If there's significant uncertainty on staff shows, it's better to keep the kids away and make the day's school closure clear to all first thing. And, yes, your kids do really need to have some sort of adult supervision, otherwise they'll eat each other. 

So, let's just take a collective chill pill and make the most of a rare weather occurence that may get rarer.

As I write this, just-auto contributor Rob Golding is probably surfing down Greenwich Hill on an upturned car bonnet (hood). It's a nice image, his seven-foot frame confronting the frozen air at high speed, dog walkers diving for cover. Well, earlier today I spoke to him on the phone and he reckoned his neighbour had seen someone on an upturned bonnet and a number of other unusual vessels serving as makeshift toboggans down the local hills. Yeah, right, Rob. I could tell he was itching to get out on the Greenwich Park slopes on his old water tank. Just don't break a limb, mate.


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