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Snow!

Englandshire is currently in the grip of the worst snow event in 13 years. Fifteen centimetres (six inches in old money!) has fallen on London, Heathrow's runways are shut, London Transport has shut down all bus and most tube services, South-East Trains have cancelled most services, there are lots of closed roads, there's huge economic disruption, and so on.

(Warning to readers on the other side of the Atlantic: yes, I can hear your sniggering from here! The thing is, London gets snow so rarely that most boroughs don't have snow ploughs — they'd be used at most once in their lifetime. Snow is an extreme weather event, down south. Forget all that Dickensian imagery about white Christmases and freezing orphans, or the Elizabethan Great Freeze in which they held fairs on the frozen Thames — these days they've got vineyards as far north as Yorkshire and climate change denialists are thin on the ground.)

Here in Edinburgh, 630 kilometres north of London, the thin dusting of snow managed to stick to the roofs of the parked cars. Mind you, it's another matter up in the highlands and on the hills of Fife, but Edinburgh is special; there can be blizzards and metre-deep drifting twenty kilometres inland but nothing more than a thin drizzle of sleet falling in Auld Reekie.

86 Comments

1:

Yep, at the edge of Zone 2, South London, we've had going on for ten inches of snow now, and it's still coming. Buses stopped, half the tube stopped and most trainlines either cancelled or running 'emergency travel only' services. Never seen anything like it. I opted to not even try and get into work, given there's another blizzard forecast at 3pm.

2:

Charlie: climate change denialists are thin on the ground.

First of all, there's simply no one who denies climate does change. You probably mean human induced global warming?

It must be extremely funny a few years hence, probably just after the singularity, that so many SCIENCE fiction writers hadn't seen through the biggest scientific hoax around. But perhaps you meant the opposite: global warming believers get thing on the ground.

And Charlie, the Romans had vineyards in Yorkshire as well. You must know that, do you?

3:

Only about 4 inches this morning in Deptford, but I'm almost certainly at a lower elevation than Dave.

The DLR is one of the only bits of public transport in London that seems to be working at something like it's normal capacity, so I'm one of only three fools who made it in this morning. My Dad's trying to hack his way back to Nottm in time for a lecture he's supposed to be giving this afternoon - it'll be interesting to see if he makes it in time...

Regards
Luke

4:

Berend: this is not a soapbox for anthropogenic global warming denialists (or holocaust denialists).

Say one more word on that topic and I'll delete your postings.

(That subject seems to attract cranks like flies on a dog turd; I wonder why ...)

5:

(Must resist urge...to..go...off topic...and inverse troll...)

In oxfordshire the snow's not too bad - thick enough to make driving a pain in the arse but not heavy enough to bunk off work.

Perfect :/ also nowhere high enough to get a sled out (or do it like we used to back in Cymru when I was a lad...nick a for sales sign from a house and hold on for dear life).

6:

2 inches (I am old money, doll hairs that is) in Macclesfield but it's picking up.

7:

Tiny dusting of snow here in Aberystwyth this morning, pretty much all gone by now; like Edinburgh we have a microclimate all our own.

8:

Ref Edinburgh gets nowt.. Warrington's the same.. we live in a confluence of precipitation shadows or something. also, how would you go about measuring the an individual snowflake's shadow?

9:

It's bloody pathetic.

4" / 10cm snow here in NE London -and still falling.
Place has ground to a halt - and excuse me: They KNEW, 2 days in advance, it was going to SNOW! .

I learnt to drive in January 1963 (yes, over 45 cm of snow in london on January 1st/2nd that year) and now have a Land-Rover, but apart from our tube line (Victoria - all underground, not a lot is going anywhere.
One reason, of course, is the relentless bullying drive for efficiency that government(s) have applied to the railways, so that there are no "surplus" staff - who used to be called out to deal with emergencies like this.

But, it is beautifully quiet, and the unspeakanbly cute kitten (Who is training to be a Supervillian's white tom-cat) has been out to practice being a Snow Leopard, and then come in to nest on his humans, with icy paws .....

10:

Nothing here yet alongside the Mendips in Somerset apart from the odd snowflake. A couple of years ago, even when people were being stuck in cars on Exmoor and Dartmoor and there was heavy snow in Bath and Cardiff - ie pretty much all around me - my specific area remained snow-free and even sunny. It'd be nice to get a winter wonderland for a change.

I had to go to my brother's in Bradford for my last bit of proper snowfalling. I even managed to spend almost all November to February inclusive in Budapest a year ago and failed to see any snow falling - I went back to Somerset over Xmas/New Year and the only big snowfall happened then. It hung around for a couple of weeks on the ground after I got back, but that's not the same as seeing it tumble out of the sky.

11:

The weather is definitely out of whack. I was down in Las Palmas last week and it was quite cold (by Canary Islands standards) 17-18 degrees and cloudy. I packed my speedos, but I didn't get to use them for obvious reasons... ;) And in mainland Spain it snowed quite heavily in Madrid! Wtf??

12:

Wait a minute - I just realised that postal deliveries will be delayed and I've got a big box of DnD stuff coming. Damn you accursed fate - DAMN YOU!

And Zoid at @11 - was the reason you didn't use your speedos because, er, they're speedos? :P

13:
It's bloody pathetic.

4" / 10cm snow here in NE London -and still falling.
Place has ground to a halt.

We've had this much snow in London perhaps three times since I moved here in the mid-80s. Whilst it would be nice to have a transport network sufficiently resilient to cope with 4-6" of snowfall, I think it's at least arguable that the resources to winterise the tube could be put to better use on other things.

Of course it would be nice if those resources had in fact been devoted to other things that were transport-related rather than plumping up the rate of return on a PFI contract...

Regards
Luke

14:

Snow's started falling again in central London. Quite heavily too.

Regards
Luke

15:

Don't feel bad, there are parts of the US that are just as bad when it snows. Areas of the South get snow rarely enough that they can't keep snow removal equipment or people, so even a few inches will shut down entire states.

Which is of great amusement to the more northerly Americans. OTOH, the remnants of a tropical storm will send New Englanders into a panic when Floridians would figure it was good weather for surfing.

16:

Greg. Tingey @ 9

As Charlie already pointed out, they don't really have snow plows in London. Living in Victoria, BC for a while; Canada! there was a similar situation here - the municipality has to contract out snow plowing because snow falls so rarely. It's not pathetic so much as prudent. Still, I'm glad to be beyond the snow, don't envy you.

17:

Hooray for public transport failures! This actually sounds pretty similar to what we had in Melbourne, Australia last week, except that in our case it was brought on by three consecutive days above 43 degrees Celsius.

Now all you need for London to catch up is a buckled Ferris wheel and a blackout affecting 20% of the city. Perfectly doable, especially if you can get yourself one of these!

18:

Seraphinn @ 5,

We used empty plastic fertilizer sacks.
Good turn of speed but hard to steer.

19:

Ouch, my sympathies. Things usually clog up pretty badly at the first snowfall here in Ottawa as people forget how to behave and we have a reasonable level of experience with this stuff and the equipment to clear it reasonably quickly.
Though: most of the snow clearance equipment is contracted and is actually re-tasked construction equipment, sidewalk clearance is done by little caterpillar units with snow kits on them, so the cost would be mostly keeping the snow removal kits available and training to install & use them, contingency planning, etc. Cost would likely be less than having dedicated equipment on hand and a windfall for construction companies.
Of course, not much you can do if people don't know how to behave and the roads are clogged with parked cars, even happens here a lot with heavy snow:
http://flickr.com/photos/gawp/2323040842/sizes/l/

20:
Of course, not much you can do if people don't know how to behave
This is another big thing with the rarity of snow in SE England, people don't have decent winter tyres and, even if they do, they don't have a clue about how to drive when it's icy.

My in-laws are originally from Bavaria and they always have a laugh about how pathetically people drive when we get a dusting of snow.

Regards
Luke

21:

It isn't the snow, it's the ice. Beware the ice. Ice truly sucks. Or slips. Whatever. It is a bad thing. Pray it doesn't rain in the next few days, and I feel terrible for any of you who, like myself, greatly look forward to exercising outdoors.

Damned f@&king ice. Hate the ice.

22:

It's been bright sunshine and clear blue skies in West Wales so far (insert 'since-records-began' joke of choice here).

Probably catch a face-full later but for now, and for one time only....(SMUG!!).

23:

Used to run a Land Rover

Big wheels, all-wheel drive, but no more brakes than anything else.

Be careful out there.

24:

As someone who grew just outside Boston, MA, I'm kind of required to giggle at a city that shuts down for that little (yes, Boston has been shut down by snow a few times in the last few decades, but it takes on the order of three feet thereof).

Admittedly, I now live in Nashville, TN, where any snow makes the locals think the world is ending... and it's also where they cancel school when the temperature drops below 10F (which is silly, given that you can't walk anywhere in this city, so the usual spurious argument of "the kids will be cold on route / walking home from school" doesn't even apply).

At the moment, it's 37F here... which feels deeply odd to this transplanted Northerner.

25:

London N19, easily six inches, still falling. This morning I came upon a VW Golf spinning its wheels pathetically on a patch of hard packed snow/ice; I gave it a push to get it started, but as soon as it cleared the parking space, it lost traction and slithered at 90 degrees sideways right back in the space, parking itself perfectly.

Signs you shouldn't be trying to get to work, 1) your car parks itself back in the parking bay.

26:

Charlie: "London gets snow so rarely that most boroughs don't have snow ploughs — they'd be used at most once in their lifetime. "

When I was a lad, snow fell every year on what was then the outskirts of London (Richmond, until 1964 if memory serves). No snowploughs then either, although it was certainly possible to drive a car or use the bus. Nothing like the real snowfalls I experienced living in Toronto, which needed serious snow ploughing to keep the city navigable.

But let's not forget the years and tears of "British Rail has canceled all services to [city of choice] due to leaves on the line". Leaves didn't fall from the trees every year in England? :)

27:

Alex: yes, I remember growing up in Leeds with regular (every winter) snowfalls of 3-9 inches, drifting to three feet.

Funny, it doesn't happen every year any more. And eight of the ten hottest years on record in the UK have been in the past decade.

28:

Alex@26: It's a particular combination of temperature + humidity that converts leaf->lube (reminds me of one of those old puzzles: how many steps does it take to get from one to the other, using only dictionary words or proper names)

30:

I always find the attitude of Londoners hilarious when it comes to a bit of snow. The entire city shuts down and you'd be forgiven for thinking the end times are upon us. Up in Edinburgh the snow may not lie but it still batters down and we just get on with things - I fractured my toe on Friday but I still cycled in to work today!

I miss the snowfalls of my youth though. Growing up in Kinross, a small town about 45 mins drive north of here we would regularly have days at a time when the schools were closed and the snow was piled up 4 or 5 feet deep at the side of the road. Those days were amazing, hours spent building snowmen (sadly pedestrian ones, no Calvin & Hobbes sculptures), ice tunnels, igloos and, of course, epic town-wide snowball battles. Never seems to happen these days. I blame Sarkozy for some reason.

31:

Just outside of Perth we've had around 2" of snow - all of the type that is fantastic for snowballs and snowmen :-) It's a far way short of the 4"+ we were forecast though, which is a little disappointing!

32:

In Indiana it's been rough because the price of Salt has gone up so much. It's also been like the 10th coldest Jan.on record. People I know point to this as proof that global warming is a joke. I've tried to explain about disruptions in ocean currants but they want remain in denial!

33:

East Anglia, where I live, is apparently getting the brunt of it. I've been sent home early from work because the train I catch is running only intermittently. The frustrating part is that the rail company seem to have chosen 2-4 February to do essential maintenance, which probably now won't get done. And there wasn't really much snow in Norwich, where I work, today.
Oh, well. British trains are one of those things we all like to moan about. I really shouldn't have bothered getting out of bed this morning, but if this keeps up I'll have a good reason not to go in tomorrow.

34:

Rural reas have probably been hit by changes in the farming industry.

It used to be that the same tractor-mounted scraper blade could as easily shift snow as it could cow-shit.

Councils, insurers, and HMRC, don't like farmers doing highways work without the right paperwork (can't use low-tax agricultural diesel, for one) and fewer farmers have livestock.

So the machinery often isn't out there, and it often can't be used lawfully.

35:

On another occasion when traffic in England was brought to a halt by snow - in, 2002/2003 I think - A collegue of mine had flown back from Japan just in time to get caught in it. He was stuck in a taxi on the M11 for longer than the air trip (14 hours, IIRC).

Fortunately the taxi was pre-booked and so was a fixed fare. I think they gave the driver a bonus, though, for being a good bloke in adversity.

36:

Charlie@27: I think it may be more complex than GW. The snow stopped falling regularly in London about the same time that we started using smokeless coal for heating and industry was cleaning up it's smokestacks. (coincidence, cetainly possible). Then there was the huge expansion of cities creating the urban heat island effect. Richmond is certainly not on the edge of London anymore.

Cannonball@30. Don't be so smug. I experienced the huge snowfall in 1982 that buried most of England. By coincidence, I had flown in to Edinburgh the day before for a week long meeting. My colleagues who took the train and traveled a day later were caught in the storm, trapped in cold carriages for over 24 hours with no food or heat. Edinburgh was not exactly snow free, but it was evident that there was some disruption caused by the snow, even though it was much lighter than in the rest of the nation.

Edinburgh does not experience the sort of snowfalls you get in the middle of large continents. People living in Canada and the US mid west would smile at what you call winter.

37:

Another good reason to live in California. The snow stays where it belongs, up in the mountains!

Of course the pending drought is not so much fun ;)

38:

"Snow event"? For shame.

Here in Washington DC, we get dissed by the President when we complain about snow...

39:

I can't stand the term "Snow event". Always seemed like some weird term invented by yuppie meteorologists. Snow storm!

But then again, a couple inches of snow? Try the foot and a half that we got in a day here in Vermont. It always amazes me at how many people will panic with just a couple centimeters.

40:

Whe I headed back home (early), the train line to Peterborough had an 'emergency' timetable running, two trains an hour all stations to Peterborough.

The normal, non-emergency timetable is... two trains an hour, all stations to Peterborough.

Colour me confused.

(I suppose most of the fast skips-most-stations services weren't running, but I can't use any of those so I don't care.)

41:

A bit over a decade ago, I left a central Edinburgh private school for good, having served my life sentence.
As a country pupil, one who lived outside the city boundary, (only 8 miles from the centre) I was on the list for people who had to be sent home early if the snow got really bad. This happened only a few times, but what did happen many, many more times was that we would get 4 or 6 inches of snow, and school would still be open and get only 1 inch or so. I would mentin the snow drifts I had to fight through to get into school, the 3 hour bus journeys etc etc, and people who lived in town would hardly believe it.

In that respect St Andrews is very similar, only had one decent snowfall in the 4 years I was there, all the others stopped inland, I've seen rain clouds part and travel past St Andrews rather than rain on it.

Finally, my commute is about 55 miles round trip, from Polmont to Bellshill. The journey to work took about 1 hour 10 minutes, mainly because of all these stupid drivers who dtrove really slowly when the road was in fact merely damp. But by the time it had snowed on and off all day, adding about 2 inches to the depth, the drive home was more fun, but by this time most of the amateurs were out of my way, and it was hassle free.
The only gritter I saw was broken down on the M8.
Typical, they wait years for snow and then can't keep the M8 free from it, I was driving through slush the whole way.

42:

Is it just me or should Al Gore check the weather channel before giving another speech on global warming? He's not over there in England by any chance?

Jan 28th, Washington D.C., amidst another snowstorm

"We must face up to this urgent and unprecedented threat to the existence of our civilization at a time when our country must simultaneously solve two other worsening crises," Gore told the panel.

43:

@32
Don't use salt, it's murder on your car, boots, clothes, and anything growing near to where you used the salt. Use unscented non-clumping kitty-litter - AKA clay.

44:

Pres. Obama should remember that the snow in Chicago is the slushy lake-effect type, not the drier sort they get in DC the area, which tends to melt and refreeze when it hits warm pavement. (At least that's how I remember it from my kiddie years in the DC area-1975-85)

Here in my bit of Colorado we get some snow, but it usually melts the next day. This January seemed particularly warm, average highs of 60 degrees F., with 30 degree swings from night to day. Still pretty cold most of the time, but little actual snow. January tends to be warmish for a week or so, but this one was more sun than snow. However, we generally get blizzards mid-March, which can make up for the rest of winter.

45:

Ian @ 42: You bet, don't use salt. I grew up in the US Northeast where all the cities used salt on the roads; result was that few cars lasted more than 5 years without serious body rot, unless you washed them off, top and bottom, after every trip. I recall one time I was riding with a friend when he put his foot down on the accelerator, and it went right through the floor. A patch of the metal had been completely eaten around its perimeter.

Of course now I live in the Northwest, where they use gravel to increase traction instead of salt. Here we've traded broken windshields when the car in front throws a large piece of gravel for the body rot.

46:

As someone who grew just outside Boston, MA, I'm kind of required to giggle at a city that shuts down for that little

Well, when we lived in Rochester, NY, we giggled over how little snow caused Bostonians to panic. This panicky behavior has apparently continued to the present day; Google(TM) for "French toast alert system." Though to be fair, the city doesn't usually shut down even when its populace is wigging out.

Now if you'll excuse me, I apparently have to go back to debugging a program containing the line

printf("Weather is not the same as climate.\n");

in order to add more iterations to the loop.

47:

Edinburgh snow... oh yes... I remember one morning in I think 1987 getting caught in what I swear was a blizzard between leaving Pollock Halls and arriving at Appleton Tower.

48:

Bruce @45
My home city stopped using salt a while ago too. Same problem with car underbodies - If the brakes don't work just jam your feet through the floor and stomp hard on the ground.

They switched to gravel and got too many complaints about broken windows. Now they use sand, and people complain because it doesn't work as well as gravel.

49:

these days they've got vineyards as far north as Yorkshire

Actually, not to be a total plant nerd, but even in Elizabethan times the climate of Britain was such that they could have had vineyards in Yorkshire. Grapes are hardy down to -30C in places where there is a winter snow cover or other protection from the wind. If you consider that the Germans were producing wines at similar latitudes and temperature extremes, it was not climate that was keeping vineyards from taking over the moors. (There are any number of social reasons why nobody was interested in growing grapes in Yorkshire at the time.)

50:

Cannonball@30. I used to live in Kinross. It seemed to be in the Arctic circle. The town got cut off for a day once and the piles of snow the ploughs racked up were still there in April.

The worst I ever experienced, though, was when I lived in Hertford and Essex. Blizzards like I'd never seen in Hertford and cut off for three days twice in Braintree. I used to joke I came back to Scotland to get away from the awful weather.

In Dumbarton as a lad there was only ever a light sprinkling except for the really cold winter of 1963 when I stood on Loch Lomond. That was frost/ice though. Not much snow.

51:

Blizzards in Hertford? It must have been one of them when, aged about 13 and going through a 'not feeling the cold' phase, I walked to school wearing a shirt and no jumper. You wouldn't catch me doing that now, I can tell you.

Weather report: for once central Leicester has got more snow (3in all day, I think) than the hills to the east. My son's teacher took them to the park in the afternoon so they could play in it. I have a worrying feeling that he did it for the same reason that I would have done: it's not as common as it used to be.

52:

Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport is closed for weather much less often than the Chicago airports.

Note: There are parts of the southern US which do get large amounts of snow often -- at high altitudes.

53:

It has been commented that Seattle's weather and London's resemble each other. Apparently, that's true of snow and its effects.

54:

I moved from Scotland to Canada some years ago and I also can honestly say I still miss the weather back home. Having said that if I want to experience Scotland-like weather all I have to do is visit Vancouver Island for a while.

55:

My childhood snow and school transport story is being on a school bus that was being pulled sideways out of the ditch by an eight horse hitch. (Lots of snow, lots of ice on top of it, and a bunch of young draft horses being consumed with joy that they got to really pull something.)

It's a pity we don't have anyone from Winnipeg on here; when it comes to snow, growing up in the Ottawa Valley isn't much beside a Winnipeg upbringing. The only place Ottawa is ahead is the "world's longest skating rink" (the frozen Rideau Canal), something it doesn't get cold enough to have reliably of late.

56:

Serraphin @12 Exactly! Noone wants to see a fat pasty-white swede in Speedos frolicking in the waves. :D

57:

God caused global warming because you touch yourself down THERE...

Think of baseball (or cricket or hurling or whatever bat sport the Scots play) the next time you get an itch. The ruin of civilization will be all your fault!

58:

Mia@53: Hey now, Seattle is well prepared for inclement weather!

In that big snow storm around festivus, the SeaTac airport's runway crews heroically kept the runways operational and clear of snow every day! Those fine men and women of the Port of Seattle Airport division worked day and night to keep the hub of air travel in the Puget Sound area fully operational!

Of course, all flights were canceled anyway because the airlines didn't bother to stock any de-icer fluid for their planes, but those runways were *clear*!

And sure, the city's 27 rubber snow plows weren't actually capable of clearing off any of the packed ice from the roads, but man, once the ice had melted 80% of the way, they got those roads cleared of easily passable slush quick!

59:

There are any number of social reasons why nobody was interested in growing grapes in Yorkshire at the time.

Wine not manly enough, was it?

60:

@ 26/28
"Leaves" - in the days of STEAM trains, you got very few trees on railway cuttings (Hint: so-called "sparks" - burning coals - ejected from the chimneys) When they dieselised/electrified, they didn't start a tree-pruning programme, or didn't ensure that tose trees that did grow had very small leaves - pines are good, sycamores bad.
Steel-to-steel contact is normally VERY GOOD - a loco can haul a 400-tonne train with 8 contact-points each no smaller than a 5p piece. But wet leaves are the ultimate - you get a surface-chemical bonding and a really vile slippery mix. It's beetr now, they've developed sand/dtergent mixtures, and rotating scrubbers to clean the rail-heads ....

@41 My wife, when her parents moved back to the UK/Scotland, lived in Jedburgh ....
Yup, get the bus home, before you're snowed into the bus, halfway over the Lammermuirs, near, say, Lauder.

@ Various on GRAPES
They need lots of SUNSHINE at the appropriate time, and quite a bit of water, as well.
Cold in Winter is almost irrelevant.
Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to grow such delicious wines in the Rhine gorge, or the Rheingau ....
One change I have noticed in the past 40 years is the increase in isolation in London and the SE

61:

I rather enjoyed the snowpocalypse. As a denzien of Sarf East London, once the trains and buses were down there was no chance of getting anywhere, and so the missus and I went for a pleasant walk on in the park and watched the snowmen being built.

As for the effects, it rather pleases me that I live in a city where the effects of extreme weather are more serious than those of terrorist attacks.

62:

Completely OT ...

Sorry, Charlie, even your secure mail is rejecting a post, claiming I'm a spammer.
Please look at today's "FT" - there's an article on a "Singularity University", being set up near Ames, by Google / NASA / Kurzweil et al.
Interesting stuff.

63:

Well Edinburgh's snow has well and truly vanished already, not a flake in sight this morning. Bah, humbug, damn and blast. Mind you, it makes it a damn sight safer for me to cycle home tonight...

64:

Greg @ 60

"One change I have noticed in the past 40 years is the increase in isolation in London and the SE"

Should that be insolation?

65:

@60, @64:
There has been an estimated 50% in heavy fog days over Europe during the last 30 years, believed to be due to clean air acts: removing all those SO2 and soot particles. This has added about 5- 10% of the observed warming in Europe (most visible in E. Europe). See the KNMI groups work in Nature Geoscience recently.

Realclimate.org blog had an interesting thread on Vineyards in England here . Not only are there vineyards as far North as Yorkshire, there are more than in Roman / Medieval times. (and growing; apparently French and German growers are eyeing up English hillsides). Not being a winegrower, I'm not sure about the cold (see @60) but rainfall is also an important variable, with Southern Europe drying.


66:

@ 62 Greg Tingey

@ 26/28
" "Leaves" - in the days of STEAM trains, you got very few trees on railway cuttings (Hint: so-called "sparks" - burning coals - ejected from the chimneys) When they dieselised/electrified, they didn't start a tree-pruning programme, or didn't ensure that tose trees that did grow had very small leaves - pines are good, sycamores bad.
Steel-to-steel contact is normally VERY GOOD - a loco can haul a 400-tonne train with 8 contact-points each no smaller than a 5p piece. But wet leaves are the ultimate - you get a surface-chemical bonding and a really vile slippery mix. It's beetr now, they've developed sand/dtergent mixtures, and rotating scrubbers to clean the rail-heads ...."

ISTR that the "leaves on the line / wrong kind of leaves etc" came in at roughly the same time as the slam-doors and their old school brakepads were being withdrawn in favour of newer rolling stock with disc brakes. i think i read somewhere (happy to be corrected) that the old school brakes helped clean the wheels whilst the new disc brakes do not...?

67:

The only thing about the SNOWMAGEDDON that pissed me off is that I only found out that people were snowboarding on Streatham Common after it had got dark and everyone had gone home.

68:

65 / 65
YES the "n" got left out Write out 100 times: "Insolation" .....

Leaves - partly, but I've seen film of an old-style Southern emu, slam-doors, friction-grip brakes, spinning and sliding hopelessly, unable even to get out of its sidings .....

69:

David @45. I think I remember the same storm! The thing about Edinburgh is the freezing wind off the North sea which seems to drive all precipitation horizontally into your face whichever way you are facing.

I also remember Appleton tower. What a dump - I can still remember the smell of that building and have nightmares about 1st year Applied Maths.

70:

Luke@20 : I am originally from Bavaria, and living in Hertfordshire at the moment and have to say I am laughing really loudly at england at the moment....

I am probably the only person in the county with winter tyres (blame the fact of my car being my mom's old skoda :s). Driving home sunday night deep in the night, seeing all the other cars sliding onto roundabouts instead of around was kind of hilarious in a very evil sadistic way... they should have done like me : find the next supermarket car park and train their power slide skills. I am wondering what the first guy arriving at the supermarket on Mondays thought happend *happy snow induced grin*.

Lack of mountains and skis needs me to get my fun differently....

71:

Yeah it's all over to country! I'm further south than London and only have about an inch, but it's still amazing, aha. Wish it was like this more often: I haven't had to go to school today (or yesterday for that matter)! It's so fun!

72:

My folks reside in Northeast Ohio, are used to snow, and just had to put up with one of the worst three January's on record; at a certain point snow is just a pain.

As for how our beloved chief executive took the locals to task, while the District is an easy target to diss, the back streets were pretty damn icy. The problem isn't getting the kids to school, the problem is the teachers not being able to get to school.

73:

Lack of snowplows is no excuse for London; Mad Magazine solved this problem years ago.

Every open-topped truck in the area is drafted to park in the streets of downtown London at night, filling them totally. When the snow ends, the trucks all leave and dump the snow in the Thames, leaving London streets 100% clean :)

74:

It could be worse, the automobile might ever had been invented:

“While the nineteenth century American city faced many forms of environmental pollution, none was as all encompassing as that produced by the horse. The most severe problem was that caused by horses defecating and urinating in the streets. ... The normal city horse produced between fifteen and thirty-five pounds of manure a day, and about a quart of urine, usually distributed along the course of its route or deposited in the stable. ... In 1866, the Citizen’s Association Report on the Sanitary Condition of the City observed that, “The stench arising from these accumulations of filth is intolerable” (“The Centrality of the Horse to the Nineteenth-Century American City,” by Joel Tarr and Clay McShane).

The health and aesthetic problems created by horse-drawn carriages, inflicted cities of all sizes. At the turn of the (last) century, Milwaukee, WI, had a human population of 350,000, and a horse population of 12,500, that produced 13 tons of manure daily. The 15,000 horses of Rochester, NY, produced enough manure each year to create a pile 175-feet high, covering an entire acre. Aside from the odor, manure was a breeding ground for illnesses and the disease vectors that carried them. Now, imagine what it was like in major cities such as New York, NY; Chicago, IL; or London, England. In fact, The Times, of London, predicted, in 1894, that if their present manure creation trends continued, every street in London would be buried in 9 feet of manure by 1950.

So be thankful that the only thing you are digging out is snow.

75:

#65
The railway carriages (translated from US: train cars) I see have both disk and drum brakes - generally one set of wheels each. It's no help when you're suddenly stopped by an oncoming train hitting you. (Fortunately that wasn't my train, but I know people who were on that one and not reported as dead.)

CalTrans used to keep (probably still does) snowplows on Skyline Blvd, south of San Francisco, to handle the white stuff they got on the ridge there. One year a storm dropped 12 inches on it. (It isn't that high in altitude, either.) CalTrans clearing snow in the Sierra Nevada, on US highway 50. This is not much snow, for that region.

76:

Nostalgia. 13 years ago my wife and I had to fly from Edinburgh to London to Los Angeles. We'd been in town so that I could do panels at the 1995 World Science Fiction Convention, held in Glasgow, Scotland, and for her and our little boy to visit her family and friends.

It too most of one day to try and leave Edinburgh by air. They kept de-icing the plane, and then finding that they needed to "lather, rinse, repeat" [to quote the classic American shampoo bottle].

So we were de-planed, taken by bus to another airport, and eventually flown to London. London was now frozen down tight.

We stayed overnight at a friend's place in London -- actually, not in their home, but in the office suite used as a Sex Clinic. I had to wonder for what else the mattresses upon which we snoozed had been used.

The next morning, one of the best Chinese meals I'd ever had (just as two of the best Indian meals I've ever had were in Victoria, B.C. and Lancer's in Edinburgh).

There was ice on the ocean. The trains were not running, nor the busses.

I believe that this was the last such snow day in Edinburgh and London until the one you're in now.

I'll have to ask my wife if it was the next time or the previous tme that we were in Edinburgh that we experienced the record heat wave. Way over 90 F at the Grassmarket.

Well, it was over 80 Fahrenheit her in greater Los Angeles yesterday and the day before, and is expected to be again, today. So say what you will of Earthquakes and Mudslides and Brushfires and Driveby Shootings. My wife was tired of the cold Edinburgh winters.

I sometimes miss the New York City winters of my childhood, white snow turning to gray slush later; and miss the Western Massachusetts winters I knew in graduate school (heavy snow in mid May once).

But now I enjoy walking my dog while wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and then, invigorated by exercise and coffee, writing 3,000 to 5,000 words per day. Not my "manic phase" as someone said in an earlier thread. One short story completed and snailmailed to Analog. One novelette completed and snailmailed to Analog. One novelette completed and e-mailed to The New Yorker. 171 pages completed since Xmas, over 44,000 words.

I still thank the inpiriring example of Charles Stross passing 600,000 words of Merchant Princes, agree that ending a long piece of writing can cause one's mood to change in odd ways, and agree that the lighting and temperature affect mood. The sunlight of Hollywood famously enabled what they call here "The Industry." And I don't mind using it to help my fiction, poetry, Mathematical Physics, Mathematical Biology, and Mathematical Economics nonfiction.

Writing is writing. Winter is Winter. Modulo where on Earth you reside.

77:

Are you sure it isn't the sniggering from over the North Sea you hear?

78:

GJM@68

Yes, I was doing 1st year AM as well (both bits - including all that stuff about the probability of lightbulb failure). It wasn't the nicest building, it had a kind of half abandoned feel as I recall.

David

79:

David@77:

The Appleton Tower has been refurbished now, with revamped lecture theatres and a cafe on the ground floor. It's not beautiful but it doesn't have that abandoned feel anymore.

80:

We had a dusting in NoVA, but it's not the same storm. I don't remember this, since I lived in Kodiak, Alaska from 6 weeks old to two years old, but we had a picture of my father climbing out the second-floor window because the snow was up over the top of the first floor.

Greg @9, cute kitty, and we get to read the titles of some of your books!

Luke @13, Obama ragged on the DC area for closing schools and such with the snow & ice we got last week, but we just don't get it that often and Chicago, where he comes from, has a different kind of snow.

Ian @48, the condo management had ice melt put down on the sidewalks and people are complaining that it gets tracked into their condos. They'd rather have ice? Get a doormat.

82:

@78 and @79: Appleton Tower is famous for having the best view of Edinburgh from the top. It's one of the very few places in Edinburgh where you can't see the Tower itself...

83:

Appleton tower has the best view of Edinburgh?
Eh?
Rather than start a flame war, I think it best to point out that there are a number of locations with better views.

84:

@83: Yes but sadly you are in danger of seeing Appleton Tower from somewhere else in Edinburgh.

85:

Um, warm and sunny in Denver, Colorado today. I think the high was over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. (I'll stop bragging, now.)

However, last Christmas we had two feet of snow. I think my city got around to removing it in about March. The Denver approach to snow is that we have 310 sunny days a year, why bother?

86:

heh, quite a bit more snow here in Norway :p It's also about -10 to -20 degrees when i walk to school in the morning, which makes it kinda cold to wait for the train (fun fact: every third train in Norway is late) for 10-45 minutes. heh.. i know some english people who live down in Oslo, whining is inherent for you guys it would seem ;D

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