Polar Vortex, Volar Schmortex: the UK goes onto red alert
February 28, 2018 10:09 AM   Subscribe

As we canter through the last century of humanity and the north pole becomes the next/last winter tropical destination, so Europe gets very cold. In the United Kingdom, as forecasts proliferate, trains were cancelled, drivers used boiling water and shoppers stayed in as high street chains continue to collapse. At universities, academics protest while ... others ... gathered; in Londonium, bygone creatures are seen and heard, and commuters struggle bravely on. Elsewhere, in moor-cavvie weather, as scandal hits fine dining the city of scary barmaids is being covered while Plowo Nutini is "deployed" and residents prepare. Stay safe: avoid trains, help homeless shelter, check on the elderly and neighbours, feed birds, look after pets and treat staff well. (historical perspective)
posted by Wordshore (239 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
rip jet stream
posted by entropicamericana at 10:12 AM on February 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


Every winter, it gets cold. And every winter, everyone around me in this country acts like it's some mollifying surprise that it would have been totally unreasonable to prepare for in any way.
posted by Dysk at 10:15 AM on February 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


Are we still thinking that global warming might shut down the Gulf Stream, and make Europe considerably colder?
posted by Chrysostom at 10:25 AM on February 28, 2018


Every winter, it gets cold. And every winter, everyone around me in this country acts like it's some mollifying surprise that it would have been totally unreasonable to prepare for in any way.

Preparation is for Europeans.
posted by dng at 10:28 AM on February 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


As I said on Twitter earlier today: I have Hamilton tickets tonight.

I love London with all my heart, but if I get snowed out of that then I'm going to Godzilla the SHIT out of this city.
posted by garius at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2018 [18 favorites]


We've had about 7 inches of snow fall in a few hours today, and white-out conditions when the wind got up. That is pretty unusual by UK standards, far more than the usual "half a cm of snow falls, everyone panic-buys bread" phase we go through every winter. Also the snow itself is fairly unusual by UK standards - it's much drier and more powdery than the wet snow we usually get, and therefore a lot more prone to drifting and forming terrifying zero-visibility conditions.

Almost every school in Scotland was closed today, the trains all stopped running at 6pm and most of the buses are off*, and my work sent even those few brave souls who'd made it in back home after lunchtime. Alas because I have the kind of job I can do from home, this has just meant the same work as normal but with all my meetings being via conference call with people yelling things like "FINLEY leave your sister ALONE!" every few minutes.

(*kudos to the wonderful municipally-owned Lothian buses who were still running on core routes last I checked, why it's almost like we shouldn't have privatised 95% of all our public transport!)
posted by Catseye at 10:31 AM on February 28, 2018 [33 favorites]


it's much drier and more powdery, and therefore a lot more prone to drifting

Though it's not deep here in the East Midlands, the snow that's been falling/swirling on and off is the same as yours. Kinda weird; I haven't seen snow like this since my last trip to Scandinavia. I'm more used to the slightly wet, large flake, a bit sticky snow which reminds of badly made porridge.
posted by Wordshore at 10:35 AM on February 28, 2018


Preparation is for Europeans.

Of course. This sort of desire for everything to be as shitty as it was back in our grandparents' day is indeed probably a large part of the motivation for brexit as well. "How dare you suggest that something could be done!? It's our right to suffer and moan while pretending we're stoically stiff-upper-lipping it!"
posted by Dysk at 10:36 AM on February 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


As a casual observer from another continent, this storm has been fantastic for photos of ice covered benches.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:39 AM on February 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


It's just winter. If it gets bad l'll pull the snow shovel out of the shed, maybe chuck a handful of grit on the path.
posted by StephenB at 10:50 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


We got thundersnow today in Newcastle! It was a nice reminder of home.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 10:54 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


On the bright side, it's very pretty.
posted by kyrademon at 10:57 AM on February 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


re: boiling water on windscreens

Pouring hot water on your windscreen may seem like the quickest way to defrost it, especially in that early morning rush.

But the rapid expansion and contraction of the ice as a result of the hot water could cause the screen to crack.

Instead, turn on the engine and allow the air-conditioning to circulate around the car.


Um...No. Air conditioning (or better still: the heater) is great for keeping your breath from fogging up the inside, but if that’s how you’re clearing frost off the outside, you’ll have to refuel before it’s even started to melt. Try using a scraper, followed by a few squirts of antifreeze. Then remember to press the button for the rear window defroster.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:59 AM on February 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


As a casual observer from another continent, this storm has been fantastic for photos of ice covered benches.

These are really cool!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:01 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


My Dutch relatives are all complaining to me about how cold and unbearable it is there right now. Complaining to me, a Canadian. Who lives in Canada.

Yes, please, tell me more.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:01 AM on February 28, 2018 [32 favorites]


Ireland is very bad too. The government has told everyone not to leave their houses after 4pm tomorrow and that driving at that time is basically suicide.

Pretty much all the schools are closed. I tried driving in to work this morning but had to turn back. I then got a text message telling me that work was closed. It will be again tomorrow due to the "Serious, life-threatening" conditions that have been forecast.
I don't think I've ever seen snow this bad in Ireland before.

Between this and the hurricane, weather has been quite interesting lately.
posted by drugstorefrog at 11:02 AM on February 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


My Dutch relatives are all complaining to me about how cold and unbearable it is there right now.

But...but...surely they can still just skate to work on the canals, as all Dutch people do regularly, right??

</limpix>
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:05 AM on February 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


Kelpie.
posted by Wordshore at 11:16 AM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


As a Canadian, I had a good chuckle at the people pouring boiling water on their windscreens. Go on and try licking a metal surface while you're at it, why don't you?
posted by dazed_one at 11:19 AM on February 28, 2018 [21 favorites]


Any chance of an Elfstedentocht? The problem when it snows in places like Ireland (other than lack of gritters, snow tyres on cars, insulated pipes, etc.) is the fact that when it does snow temperatures are generally just below freezing, so small fluctuations in temperature (or the heat of cars driving or people walking) cause it to melt and refreeze as ice, which causes far more problems.
posted by kersplunk at 11:20 AM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


(historical perspective)

Guys, London isn't really cold unless you can have a fun fair over the frozen river Thames.
posted by sukeban at 11:25 AM on February 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


Um...No. Air conditioning (or better still: the heater) is great for keeping your breath from fogging up the inside, but if that’s how you’re clearing frost off the outside, you’ll have to refuel before it’s even started to melt.

Not if it's only a few degrees below freezing. Probably not much more than five minutes of full blast onto the windshield.

A scraper is still absolutely a better idea, of course, and you should be able to pick one up for a fiver or so.
posted by Dysk at 11:32 AM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Heater and a scraper is the way to go and don't forget to raise your windshield wipers while your car is parked so they don't freeze in place.
posted by dazed_one at 11:37 AM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ah; it must be snowing at Loughborough university because the students have switched to flip-flops. That's a thing they apparently do there. That's the same place as the ...others... link in the FPP (don't know what that was and don't really want to do searches to figure it out because browser history).
posted by Wordshore at 11:39 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


re: boiling water to de-ice a windscreen

Is there a better way to do this without ice scrapers?

Old plastic loyalty cards are the go to method for removing very small amounts of ice/frost from a window, but if you have a good freeze with a few cms of ice? Honestly not sure... a plastic household dustpan might give a sharp enough edge for scraping without scratching a window?
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 11:41 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've seen it done with the top half of a plastic pop bottle that's been cut in two. Hold the bottle by the neck and use the edge created by the cut to chip off the ice. Don't know if it would work with a serious amount of ice though.
posted by dazed_one at 11:49 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Every winter, it gets cold. And every winter, everyone around me in this country acts like it's some mollifying surprise that it would have been totally unreasonable to prepare for in any way.

Knowing what degree of preparation is appropriate is pretty tricky, though. The cost of avoidable disruption vs. the cost of inevitably wasted preparation is not that easy to balance. If you're preparing enough to prevent all disruption, you're probably preparing too much. I don't really know if we do under prepare for these sorts of cold spells, which, even at their worst, only seem to cause minor disruption for a few days every year or so. We might well do, but I'm not sure either way.
posted by howfar at 11:55 AM on February 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


Meanwhile, in the Netherlands.
posted by Pendragon at 11:57 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ice scrapers are the go to here in Minnesota, why on earth would you pour boiling water on your windshield? TANSTAAFL. Gotta scrape.
posted by Sphinx at 12:01 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ireland is very bad too. The government has told everyone not to leave their houses after 4pm tomorrow and that driving at that time is basically suicide.

How is that different from driving in Ireland at any other time?
posted by briank at 12:02 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


A quick search of twitter shows recommendations for using a CD (younger MeFites: that is a flat, shiny disc on which music, other sound or data was once recorded), a supermarket loyalty card, or an egg slice. To help, use a plank and pillow the night before; do a decent job so you don't lose fifty quid. You may also want to perhaps consider the roof.
posted by Wordshore at 12:03 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


why on earth would you pour boiling water on your windshield

This is a hilarious joke, in the vein of suggesting that you harness the cleaning power of ammonia with the whitening power of bleach. Ho yeah.
posted by turkeybrain at 12:04 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Obligatory (Zits cartoon)
posted by Melismata at 12:10 PM on February 28, 2018


It’s ok, once you peel all the broken glass away you don’t have to worry about it icing up on you again
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:11 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I feel like a heel complaining about the temps in the bay area. It's in the low 50's (F) (so about 12 in Celsius) and we've had one or two frosts at night and (for me) it's so bitter bitter cold that I'm wearing my thermal tops and my big wool sweaters- and holy shit look at Europe. I would die! Good luck everyone!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:13 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Another frosty ice pro tip for the Europeans: Please don't use sawdust on your ice (like people in Vancouver last year). Use sand, salt, even ashes. Sawdust is just gonna be a mess.
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:14 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have a scraper mitt, because that is what people have in civilized countries.
posted by mumimor at 12:15 PM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I got chucked out of my office about 1ish, as they sent everyone home. Just in time too, as the trains ground to a halt shortly afterward and it got pretty close to a whiteout, which I've never seen in central Edinburgh before.

I'm also seeing quite a few videos of really dicey near-misses. The Lothian Buses drivers are doing some incredible driving to get people home.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:17 PM on February 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Mumimor, I suddenly need that right now. (Well, not right this second, but definitely before the next snow!!...) Thank you!!
posted by Melismata at 12:17 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love the headline warning about temperatures plummeting to -4C as if that's a terrifying temperature.
posted by octothorpe at 12:17 PM on February 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


Is this the thread where people from colder places trump each other with 'you call that cold?' posts only for someone from the Antarctic Survey to pop up and post and everyone goes quiet and she is smug, until the ghost of Lord Kelvin appears?

One handy tip for ice scraping, is do not scrape lots then lean in your car door and flick the wipers on to throw all the small and slushy stuff off, including de-icer, forgetting that you have basically just aligned your eyes with the path of the wiper-throwoff. Because at least in our local eye infirmary, there's quite a wait.
posted by reynir at 12:18 PM on February 28, 2018 [18 favorites]


octothorpe: "I love the headline warning about temperatures plummeting to -4C as if that's a terrifying temperature."

It is when your infrastructure, transport, policing, food distribution, emergency services, hospitals and pretty much everything else deal with deep snow perhaps once or twice a decade. The UK is generally a mild, wet, grey country. Despite our moaning about the weather, we don't really do extreme heat, cold, wetness or dryness very well at all. Everything here is designed for damp grey days of 5 - 15°C.

But do continue to laugh from countries with dedicated snowploughing, well practiced emergency services, yearly snowstorms and experience of dealing with them at the city, county, state, province and national level. It's not irritating at all.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:23 PM on February 28, 2018 [48 favorites]


We're expecting one of our first winter storms here, just in time for the first day of March. Not trying to trump anyone, I'm just excited as heck because we need the snow SO badly.

(Also I can be excited now, since I just got a cord of wood delivered after running out the night before last when the overnight temps hit 10°/-12°C. If I hadn't got the wood delivery I'd be scared shitless instead. Except now I get to go stack wood before the snow starts this evening. Or at least pile it up a little better and cover it with a tarp. And also bring in as much wood as possible because it's supposed to snow for like three or four days.)
posted by elsietheeel at 12:26 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


But do continue to laugh from countries with dedicated snowploughing

But you lot DO have dedicated snowplowing. You're so damn dedicated that you NAME them!
posted by elsietheeel at 12:27 PM on February 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


It isn't incredibly cold, but it feels incredibly cold because of the wind.
This morning, the state radio sent out a message that dogs shouldn't be out more than minutes because their paws would freeze. My dog does not understand that message until he is on the street where he understands it very well. So we go back up and he waits a bit and then wants to go out into a hopefully better environment. There needs to be dog-friendly weather reports.
posted by mumimor at 12:27 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm also seeing quite a few videos of really dicey near-misses. The Lothian Buses drivers are doing some incredible driving to get people home.

That is an excellent video; it is good to see the correct use of the indicator light by the bus driver.
posted by Wordshore at 12:28 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


elsietheeel: "But do continue to laugh from countries with dedicated snowploughing

But you lot DO have dedicated snowplowing. You're so damn dedicated that you NAME them!
"

Those are gritters, mostly. There's a lot fewer ploughs. And they are focused on keeping the main routes open, so the side roads go to pot pretty quickly.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:29 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Moved to Dublin from NZ three years ago and this is pretty much the first time I've ever experienced heavy snowfall, and I'm super jazzed about it, despite the apocalyptic tone the govt is taking. I'm finding it kinda weird how many neighborhood kids seem to own sleds already, though. Maybe they're just planning ahead for future extreme weather events.
posted by Berreggnog at 12:30 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I feel like a heel complaining about the temps in the bay area. It's in the low 50's (F) (so about 12 in Celsius) and we've had one or two frosts at night and (for me) it's so bitter bitter cold that I'm wearing my thermal tops and my big wool sweaters- and holy shit look at Europe. I would die! Good luck everyone!

Once when I lived in Berkeley I had a trip back home coming up to fly to a friend's wedding in Finland, 300km north of the Arctic Circle, in March. The forecast was for -10C to -20C and we had lots of outdoor activities planned, so I ended up looking for a thermal undershirt in that big Target in Albany. I tell the shop assistant what I'm looking for and she says "yeah, it's been real chilly here lately", chilly being mid-50's Farenheit at night.

Agree on the sleds Berreggnog, I was in Bushy Park today and there were hundreds of kids with probably a 50-50 split between real sleds and improvisations.
posted by kersplunk at 12:34 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


The wind chill factor is really unpleasant. This morning when my alarm went off it was -4 with wind chill making it feel -12, and snow blowing horizontally at disturbingly fast speeds. The trains were still running fine then but walking a mile to the station before sunrise in that kind of weather? Nae chance, working from home.
posted by Catseye at 12:38 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


See, the kids are preparing for snow and cold. It's just the adults who aren't.

(And while heavy snow isn't that common, - 4 is not an out of the ordinary temperature in winter here)
posted by Dysk at 12:38 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Not really UK related but still something I wanted to share...

One time I was on a roadtrip with my dad heading back to LA and we were passing through Arizona in January. It was a particularly frosty morning and ice had formed over the windshield. I had actually packed an ice scraper because I try to be the always be prepared nerd, and while I was getting it out of the car I looked up to see my dad tossing a pitcher of HOT WATER onto the windshield and it instantly freezing another layer of ice on top.

I gave my dad a look and started furiously scraping the ice with the scraper and my dad looked at me like a disappointed dog. I have the type of McGuyver dad that usually has the clever solution to 99% of things and always tuts at me not being as smart as him... except for that time which now I will forever remember, lol. But yeah, being as we lived in the part of LA where ice and snow doesn't exist, properly de-icing a windshield was a completely alien action to him.

Also unrelated: now I'm even more hardened as I spend my winters in Jackson Hole WY and I always factor in 15 minutes before car travel after a storm to use my mega brush scraper to clean off the car. So now I'm in the "really tell me..." camp when people say it is cold/snow or ice on car/i'm scared of driving/etc from a warmer climate.

Sort of related: my husband is English and he always says he knows when it's truly winter time in the UK because his Facebook is flooded with pictures of snow atop on their garden furniture.
posted by xtine at 12:39 PM on February 28, 2018 [5 favorites]




This is a hilarious joke, in the vein of suggesting that you harness the cleaning power of ammonia with the whitening power of bleach. Ho yeah.

My dad had me clean the driveway of algae that way when I was 14. I think it's the reason I'm so fucked in the head now.

But, yeah, ice scrapers all the way. I was desperate once and used by fingertips... boiling water would have been better.
posted by charred husk at 12:45 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I once bought a car from a couple who had just moved from LA. After a few months when it got cold, I went to turn on the rear defroster and realized that it didn't have one. I know, dumb that I hadn't noticed until then but it never occured to me that you could buy a car without one.
posted by octothorpe at 12:46 PM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm more used to the slightly wet, large flake, a bit sticky snow which reminds of badly made porridge.

I can report that my part of Sweden is still getting that kind of snow. There were several traffic warnings encouraging people to stay out of their cars and some bus lines that were halted because they were too small and twisty, apparently, for buses to run on given the snow.

Yesterday was supposedly -13 C but felt like -22 C because of the wind, according to my phone. Today was a milder -8 or -9 but there was wind and it did not feel milder to my body. The 2 pairs of hiking socks that were just fine yesterday even felt cold today. I love the snow but am not crazy about all the icy patches. Be careful out there, folks.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:49 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Was watching Gaz Williams (sort of the Bob Ross of music technology) demoing a synth on a livestream yesterday and he said something about "it's a bit cold here in Bristol." I didn't appreciate at the time that it was simultaneously understatement and exactly right.
posted by Foosnark at 1:00 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


You could try burning Farage and Johnson in a wicker man to see if the sun comes back...
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2018 [17 favorites]


You could try burning Farage and Johnson in a wicker man...

Gets my vote...

to see if the sun comes back...

What? Oh, sure, sure... wasn't aware we needed another reason, but OK...
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 1:20 PM on February 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


You could try burning Farage and Johnson in a wicker man to see if the sun comes back...

I mean, even if it doesn't, you're still ahead.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:27 PM on February 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


Even if you've got a fair layer of ice, once you get the car warmed up, you don't NEED to melt all the ice. You need to melt the layer closest to the car. The rest will come off in chunks. I've had to do this before when the car's been covered in the sort of ice that's thick enough that there's nowhere to get the scraper under. You do probably still need something with which to pry up part of it, but the heat helps a lot to loosen things up.

Definitely don't just sit there waiting for it all to melt, but you should have plenty of gas to get that far. And speaking of which, if you're low on gas--if you've got less than a half a tank, it is not safe for you to go out in hazardous conditions. If your car gets stuck, you might need to be able to keep yourself warm for hours. If you don't have enough gas to let the car idle to warm up, you don't have enough to go out with bad roads. And that's my midwest-US winter survival advice.
posted by Sequence at 1:28 PM on February 28, 2018 [17 favorites]


Is this the thread where people from colder places trump each other with 'you call that cold?' posts only for someone from the Antarctic Survey to pop up and post and everyone goes quiet and she is smug, until the ghost of Lord Kelvin appears?

It's my time to shine!

(Cut me some slack; it's about all I have going for me.)

The wind chill factor is really unpleasant. This morning when my alarm went off it was -4 with wind chill making it feel -12, and snow blowing horizontally at disturbingly fast speeds. The trains were still running fine then but walking a mile to the station before sunrise in that kind of weather? Nae chance, working from home.

Walked a 2km round trip to collect takeaway yesterday evening; checked temperatures on a whim when I got home and they seemed to be around -17C, not accounting for the fairly stiff wind coming off the sea. Not sure how cold it was at late afternoon, but still went for a seawater swim; my hair froze on the walk back to the sauna.

-12C and sunny today felt positively balmy.
posted by myotahapea at 1:34 PM on February 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


For those suggesting just getting ice scrapers and -40 rated deicer - these aren't really a thing in the UK. Sure, you can get a weedy little scraper, but not the two-handed put your back into it laddie Canadian-style scrapers.

I've done -40 in Rainy River, way up on the Ontario-Minnesota border. It's ... brisk.
posted by scruss at 1:36 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


We have a Met Office red warning for snow extending into tomorrow now for central Scotland, with no trains running until some time mid-morning. Downside: schools still closed, upside: I no longer have to negotiate a World Book Day costume. WIN.

Probably the worst weather we've had here this winter, though, was the couple of days in December(?) when it was around -5 for a few days and then RAINED, which immediately froze as soon as it hit the ground. Meaning that we didn't have patches of black ice so much as a thin coating of black ice over every single surface. Walking to the station that day was like negotiating a Super Mario ice world level.
posted by Catseye at 1:52 PM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I miss snow days. Used to be in Seattle every time there was a quarter inch the city would shut down for a week. Neighborhood kids would show up with sleds on my street (the steepest block around), people who’d lost power would crash at their friends’ and watching movies and drinking whiskey and there’d be toboggan races down Olive Way in downtown seattle. Sort of a mandatory unexpected holiday. The only thing better than an unexpected day off is an unexpected day off with all your friends!

Now there can be a foot and a half of snow on the ground and I still have to drag my ass to work. I mean sure, I had no trouble getting in, but where the fucks my day off?

Anyway, stiff upper lip and all that British People. Have a hot toddy and a reckless sled ride in the middle of the street for me!

Also, post pictures of your mounds of snow sculpted into penises — hilarious!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:58 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]




British Pathe has some great scenes from the very cold winter of 1963. That was the year that the sea froze.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:59 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


My Dutch relatives are all complaining to me about how cold and unbearable it is there right now. Complaining to me, a Canadian. Who lives in Canada.

I'm a Canadian who lived 7 years in England. IT IS really miserable there when it is around zero celsius. The homes are drafty as hell with almost no insulation. You heating costs are astronomical. The roads are not safe below zero because the damp means they are quickly slippery as hell black ice situations and there pretty much aren't flat roads or snow tires anywhere in the country.

And the cold? It is a damp penetrating cold. I'd rather have a dry -15C Ottawa winter that you can layer up for than a damp -2C English cold spell that worms its way past your layers all the way to your bones.
posted by srboisvert at 2:10 PM on February 28, 2018 [21 favorites]


If you get your car stuck in a snowdrift,
don't run the engine to keep warm
until you've made sure the exhaust is unobstructed.

Otherwise, carbon monoxide poisoning through the floorboards.
posted by hank at 2:16 PM on February 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


srboisvert that reminds me of one of the last big cold snaps in 2010 - right now I'm in a super toasty apartment block but then I was in a shitty 80's house in the room furthest from the boiler and it was 12C (54F) in my bedroom with the heating on. I was sleeping in ski pants. If we had eastern Europe weather 50% of the population would die.
posted by kersplunk at 2:21 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


And the cold? It is a damp penetrating cold. I'd rather have a dry -15C Ottawa winter that you can layer up for than a damp -2C English cold spell that worms its way past your layers all the way to your bones.

Also, shit insulation in a lot of British houses, primarily comprised of old teabags and bits of Richard III.
posted by dazed_one at 2:23 PM on February 28, 2018 [27 favorites]


If you get stuck in a snow drift, cat litter will help your car get some tracrion to get out. Don't use the cat litter to melt snow though and I mean the clay type of litter rather than the wood kind.
posted by Ashwagandha at 2:23 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


And the cold? It is a damp penetrating cold. I'd rather have a dry -15C Ottawa winter that you can layer up for than a damp -2C English cold spell that worms its way past your layers all the way to your bones.

This is the reason I rejoice whenever the mercury drops more than a few degrees below - it takes the moisture out of the air and makes it feel much less cold.

(But seriously, it gets cold and icy every year - just look at Wordshore's links - and every year the country acts like it's an unprecedented surprise)
posted by Dysk at 2:23 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


OK, I know this thread is about the UK, and I'm asking about the Netherlands here, but :

Could this cold snap mean that there's gonna be an Elfstedentocht this year?
posted by suckerpunch at 2:25 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I had one of your modern day quandaries today. I am officially on strike and then at midday they shut my campus down. I resisted the urge to call it a half day. Happily tomorrow is not a strike day but we remain officially shut for my own safety. Yay.

But if they stay shut Friday it is going to seriously impact my teaching.

My cat very much does not like the snow. He insisted on going out but managed about 5 minutes the first time and 15 the second. He seemed peeved that he wasn't allowed to sit on the mat with the door open while he waited for the snow to melt.
posted by biffa at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


A couple of years ago I was in the north of Finland in December. Apparently it was a (fairly mild) -20C when I walked to a supermarket about a mile from where I was staying, wearing a short-sleeved shirt and no coat. Some of the locals were looking at me like I was a bit stupid, but I genuinely wasn't cold. There was no wind, no rain, and it was fine. Sleet blowing horizontally at you at 15mph at 0C (not uncommon in a UK winter) feels much worse.
posted by pipeski at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Edinburgh Airport never actually closed today, but loads of flights in and out were cancelled. One that wasn't was a Norwegian 737 to the eponysterical Winter Locks, CT... but it got struck by lightning just after takeoff and had to return to EDI.

I'm sure the subsequent flight path was vectored to get the aircraft back on the ground as quickly as possible - seriously, it was clearly sent directly to capture the ILS ASAP - and that any resemblance to recent US Navy fighter skywriting was absolutely coincidental. But it is quite funny.

Meanwhile, my own little bit of Edinburgh is eerily quiet; the buses have stopped, no cars are moving, and the fridge is still full of tasty provisions. So I'm enjoying the Beast from the East.
posted by Devonian at 2:33 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ideefixe: "British Pathe has some great scenes from the very cold winter of 1963. That was the year that the sea froze."

He said "In winter 1963
It felt like the world would freeze"

posted by Chrysostom at 2:34 PM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Also, shit insulation in a lot of British houses, primarily comprised of old teabags and bits of Richard III.

I kid you not that I insulated the floor beneath my couch with cardboard and newspaper in the winter. We heated only one room. If the floor wasn't so cold I would have setup a kotatsu - one of those heated Japanese coffee tables. And its not like we were poor sods scrounging for lumps of coal by the railroad tracks. We were middle class. Our neighbour was a lord baron. That's just how it was living in old victorian housing.

When we moved in I mocked the heavy red velvet floor to ceiling curtains provided for the living room's floor to ceiling glass door/windows. After the first real cold spell I understood and approved of them.
posted by srboisvert at 2:35 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


One that wasn't was a Norwegian 737 to the eponysterical Winter Locks, CT

Sadly, it's Windsor Locks, not Winter. I prefer your version though!
posted by Dysk at 2:43 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


A while back I was thinking about stuff that is different now from when I was a kid growing up in the north of the UK and one that stood out was that I never get as cold now as I did when I was a kid. I never go to bed with stuff heaped on the blankets curled up in a ball to get warm enough. I am never out long enough in cold enough conditions that it feels unbearable. Partially its because I moved further south and I am better off than my family, can afford warmer clothes but also my house has better heating. We relied on a coal fire in the living room and an immersion heater for water that I was lucky was in a cupboard in my bedroom cos the crappy lagging let some heat out. I remember being made to play out in the school playground when it was cold enough it made it difficult to draw breath when you were running around, but that you had to run around to keep warm.
posted by biffa at 2:44 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


On a different note, drone de-icing of wind turbines.
posted by biffa at 2:49 PM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


A couple of years ago I was in the north of Finland in December. Apparently it was a (fairly mild) -20C when I walked to a supermarket about a mile from where I was staying, wearing a short-sleeved shirt and no coat. Some of the locals were looking at me like I was a bit stupid, but I genuinely wasn't cold. There was no wind, no rain, and it was fine. Sleet blowing horizontally at you at 15mph at 0C (not uncommon in a UK winter) feels much worse.

I was in Oulu around this time last year, and IIRC at the time temps were around -8C at midday; I saw several people wandering about town in jeans and hoodies. (And proceeded to travel from there to Catalunya, where at 18C the locals were outfitted in coats, scarves, hats and gloves). Personally I can rarely be arsed to put on a hat until it gets to about -25C and I'm worried my ears will freeze if the wind kicks up, so I understand this approach entirely.

By contrast, my last winter in Reykjavík it never got more than a few degrees off 0C either way, but a storm blew through about every third day. I'll walk a kilometre in -17C with wind chill because I don't want to wait a few minutes for the next tram, but damp precipitation, insane wind speeds and lazy snow clearing procedures bring out my inner rageaholic.
posted by myotahapea at 2:52 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


IT IS really miserable there when it is around zero celsius. The homes are drafty as hell with almost no insulation.

I think you're supposed to drag an entire tree into your house and/or castle and set it on fire.
posted by XMLicious at 2:53 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


The wind chill is pretty terrifying out there, for a British winter. My local weather station is currently recording wind chills around -10c. The lowest wind chill for today (-11.9c) is the coldest they have since they started recording. If you don't have the clothing for it (and most people in the West Country won't, because they'd need it once a decade, if that), that's cold enough to cause some pretty serious problems. I wouldn't be surprised by someone getting too drunk, sitting down on a wall and just not waking up, on a night like this.

This is more significant than an annual cold snap.
posted by howfar at 2:57 PM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I can assure Biffa that it got plenty cold in the deep south-west of England. My childhood home had some gas fires on the ground floor, but upstairs was purely plug-in electric heaters, none of which were up to the task of keeping an 18th/19th (complicated history) three-story country building remotely habitable. This was before the invention of the duvet, and I vividly remember the horror of cold cotton sheets with an itchy blanket that took forever to get even slightly non-cryogenic. Many winter mornings I'd wake up and find the condensation frozen into (quite lovely) crystalline sheets on the inside of the single-glazed sash bedroom window. and bathing took considerable planning and intra-family co-ordination to make sure enough not water remained. Once out of the bathroom, it was back into the frigidarium of the bedroom...

Curiously, I am fairly cold-immune these days, certainly much more so than my Scottish pal.
posted by Devonian at 3:02 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I do remember those patterns on the glass, fascinating but paired with it being a fairly unpleasant place to sleep.

I now live in the deep south west of the UK. Deep deep.
posted by biffa at 3:09 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


temps were around -8C at midday; I saw several people wandering about town in jeans and hoodies.

That's pretty common in Canada. There's always guys in shorts wandering around on the mild winter days. How we feel cold can be pretty subjective - I was in Winnipeg in December when it was colder than Mars and it really didn't bother me (its a dry cold...) I love the cold so I'd walk to work in the rare winters we get -20C and below with just my mackinaw. My co-worker wears his big down coat rated to -40 when the weather gets south of 0. I used to take the bus with a fellow from North Africa, he'd wear a winter coat & toque in middle of our summer (30C with 80% humidity).

But I will agree - damp cold feels worse then any other kind of cold.
posted by Ashwagandha at 3:36 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can assure Biffa that it got plenty cold in the deep south-west of England.

And up country in Devon, too.
posted by howfar at 3:54 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's the wind that makes the cold so bitter. The day before we had the 10 degrees F it was snowing, but the flakes were fat and fluffy and falling gently (omg it was so pretty) and it was 32 degrees, which felt positively balmy. I'm sure I would have felt differently if that snow was sleet and pelting me in the face via a 40mph wind.

Sorry, this is my first winter with snow and I still think it's exciting.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:56 PM on February 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


cold cotton sheets
Coming to England to go to college, staying in my Granny's house, one of a terrace of Coal Board cottages, soon to be knocked down, sleeping in a bed set up in her bedroom, with twelve blankets on top and ten beneath, no bottom sheet, scratchy and uncomfortable as anything. She always had the window cracked open so yeah, Jack Frost on the window. No fireplaces in the bedrooms; a great wooden bed in the guest room my great aunt had died in; the range in the parlour for heating and cooking and baking (I once set the chimney on fire when I was there on my own.) A pantry where you'd get washed standing up at the sink, luckily there was always hot water from the range; the netty at the end of the yard, clean and cold and you had to dig and salt a path to it in winter, and take a candle in a jam jar at night. And a big sky view all the way up the valley.

I can hardly express how exotic and authentic and exciting I found it. As soon as you got off the plane the air smelled of cold and damp. That's gone now. I felt as though I was participating in a mythical past, a Sons and Lovers, Uses of Literacy, armature of Englishness. As for the cold, even people with central heating at that time would hardly be extravagant enough to have it on during the day, spending daylight hours in layers of woollies.

Anyhow, it's hardly snowed in Bristol yet, that's forecast for Friday. It is chilly but I keep getting this haunting feeling we only think so because we don't know we're born or something... I must have internalised the Four Yorkshiremen.
posted by glasseyes at 3:59 PM on February 28, 2018 [16 favorites]


Also, I still don't know if the sleeping on top of ten blankets as well as under twelve was their usual way of dealing with the cold or if they just felt they had to come up with extraordinary measures for the bairn from Africa.
posted by glasseyes at 4:02 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


This does seem much worse than previous years. M80 in Scotland has shut, with hundreds of drivers stuck for 7+ hours. Nicola Sturgeon has just tweeted that emergency services will be despatched to provide provisions to motorists who must stay in their cars overnight.
posted by stillmoving at 4:05 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hurrah! It's just gone midnight, so it's March the First and therefore (meteorological) spring now! Spring! At last!

{strips off all clothes and runs gleefully outside into the great, spring, outdoors}

{immediately dies of English}
posted by Wordshore at 4:08 PM on February 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


Last year, it was the north east of England rather than Scotland, but motorways were closed, people were stuck in their cars for hours overnight, etc, etc. It happens practically every year.
posted by Dysk at 4:18 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sorry, this is my first winter with snow and I still think it's exciting.

I've experienced winters with snow for most my 40+ years and I always find it exciting.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:20 PM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Dysk, was there this much snow? They've predicted another 40cm overnight in Scotland and Wales. I thought these were relatively unprecedented figures, esp with school closures until next week and Red Cross emergency assistance at Edinburgh airport.
posted by stillmoving at 4:23 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is probably unprecedented for Scotland. Last year it was unprecedented for the north east. Look hard enough and you'll probably always be able to find some record that's new each time.
posted by Dysk at 4:27 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think you might be setting your view that the UK is generally underprepared for snow and cold weather against the evidence that this is an exceptionally cold period across the country, of the order of thing that happens every decade or so, rather than every year. That seems like a false opposition. Both things can be true at once.
posted by howfar at 4:35 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wondering what the chances are that in about four months time, another post will appear on here about the UK's infrastructure breaking down due to temperatures above 80F? At which point, several perspiring BritFites (me amongst them) will nostalgically comment that they wish they were back in the cool and fresh days of late February/early March.
posted by Wordshore at 4:53 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


A couple of years ago I was in the north of Finland in December. Apparently it was a (fairly mild) -20C when I walked to a supermarket about a mile from where I was staying, wearing a short-sleeved shirt and no coat. Some of the locals were looking at me like I was a bit stupid, but I genuinely wasn't cold. There was no wind, no rain, and it was fine. Sleet blowing horizontally at you at 15mph at 0C (not uncommon in a UK winter) feels much worse.

That’s because it’s still a pretty dumb thing to do.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:58 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


there pretty much aren't snow tires anywhere in the country.

It doesn't even matter. I live in Greater Boston where we get plenty of snow and access to snow tires and I feel like I'm the only person I know that puts snow tires on the car from Thanksgiving to Tax Day. Everyone's like "oh I'll just drive slow" or "oh I've driven in snow all my life" and it's like uhhhh... what? Even if you're not driving in snow, as soon as it starts to get below 8C/45F the rubber in your tires starts to solidify. By the time you're getting down to -6C/20F you might as well be riding on hockey pucks.

One time, I'm out driving in a blizzard because, well, why not? Snow is coming down an inch an hour, city plows have given up trying to keep up, I'm just scootling along at 20mph in my AWD with snow tires and this lady is stuck on the a corner turning off the main road. FWD 200C, no snow tires, no supplies to get herself out. Like, what the hell? Why would you even be out in those conditions with that equipment? Are you suicidal?!? Eventually we get her into her house just on the corner but people are completely ignorant about it.
posted by Talez at 5:05 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


this is an exceptionally cold period across the country

Across much of the country. There are definitely areas (notably the north east) where January last year was comparable or worse.
posted by Dysk at 5:50 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


"But the rapid expansion and contraction of the ice as a result of the hot water could cause the screen to crack."

I've used a 16-20L bucket of hot water to defrost a windshield literally hundreds of times without cracking it (temps down to -10ish maybe colder). Not saying it can't happen but that's my experience. Really it's not much different than washing your car in winter. It's important to throw the water upward away from the cowl so as to not fill up your defrost intakes. You also end up with water on the ground that freezes so be aware of that.
posted by Mitheral at 5:59 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


all I can, safe in my backyard in Buffalo where it's 50 Fahrenheit, is LET'S GO BUFFALO
posted by gorbichov at 6:15 PM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


FWD is actually fine when it comes to winter driving thanks to the weight of the engine over the drive wheels. As long as you have appropriate tires, a FWD car will be fine in winter. I've driven one for years in Canada and never had a problem. Cocky pick-up truck drivers who end up in the ditch demonstrate quite clearly that it's not all about what vehicle you drive, it's how you drive it.

That said, I keep a bag of kitty litter and an army surplus folding spade in the trunk just in case.
posted by dazed_one at 6:21 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I never bother with snow tires here in Pittsburgh and my little Honda Fit does fine in the snow.
posted by octothorpe at 6:50 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I use old floor mats for traction. They worked fairly well. Also getting the snow off the top of the vehicle, if possible, is very helpful.

Living in Minnesota, one takes winter for granted, but dealing with it is all relative. One does one's best.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:57 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


We never get more than a few inches at a time, and never more than several times a month IF WE ARE LUCKY, and my mom has 4WD and studded snow tires on from November-April. I think that's because when there IS snow she usually has to drive over Donner Summit during the snow and that requires snow chains and her studded tires exempt her from the whole chain mishegas? All I know is that I can usually tell when she drives past my house (not weird, she lives down the street) because her car/tires have a very distinctive sound this time of year.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:57 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


That sound is half the cars where I live.
posted by Mitheral at 7:08 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Siberian invasion or no Siberian invasion, I will right now trade with anyone in London who would rather live in tornado alley. I got an acre for you to do a garden in, good schools, lovely neighbors that are too far away to be able to hear, so you can just wave and be considered friendly. Offer also good in Edinburgh. Sure, we're having epic flooding, weeks before it should start, and sure we've had to replace the entire roof twice in three years, but at least when it snows here, it has the common decency to look embarrassed and melt away. Most of the time.

All joking aside, be safe European buddies. I know what it's like to have a great norther come in to an area where no infrastructure is in place for that sort of weather. Stay as warm and dry as possible!
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:35 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wow, sorry about the cold, Euro & Brit folks.
It's starting to get nice here in Denver...


I mean,

OMG! 300 Ft of snow! Every day off the year! And the weed, it's ditch weed! Don't come here!
posted by evilDoug at 7:45 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


FWD is actually fine when it comes to winter driving thanks to the weight of the engine over the drive wheels.
FWD is not just fine, it's the best in the snow. AWD will help you move faster, but all cars have all-wheel brakes, so you won't stop any faster. Thus, AWD just gives you more opportunity to get into trouble. RWD is fun in snow/ice.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:36 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


My Dutch relatives are all complaining to me about how cold and unbearable it is there right now.

On the one hand, it's true that temperatures here are nothing compared to what some experience every winter and are actually fairly in range of the winters from when I were a lad,

On the other, my bloody hair started freezing in the short walk from the train to work.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:53 PM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Wow, quite a thread here. Two quick points:
  1. "Air conditioning" in the UK often refers to heat as well.
  2. To everyone mocking London for being unprepared for snow because your city deals with winters like these all the time, I have a few pointed questions about your earthquake preparations...
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:29 AM on March 1, 2018


Also, you should run air conditioning in combination with the heater in your car in most UK cold weather, because it dehumidifies the air, and that's how you stop the windows steaming up.
posted by ambrosen at 12:46 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Red alert for snow announced by the Met Office for Somerset, Devon and South Wales (but not Cornwall?).
posted by Wordshore at 12:46 AM on March 1, 2018


There are definitely areas (notably the north east) where January last year was comparable or worse.

Are you in the North-East Dysk? I'm in Newcastle, and can most assuredly say that we haven't seen anything comparable to this since at least 2010, and quite possibly longer than that.
posted by anagrama at 12:54 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


That's the same place as the ...others... link in the FPP (don't know what that was and don't really want to do searches to figure it out because browser history).

That was the Loughborough Willy Waddle, some rag event to help cure penile and prostrate cancer.
posted by erdferkel at 1:21 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


There’s a 3ft snowdrift outside my front door this morning, which I am rounding up to ‘snowed in’ for staying-in-and-drinking-cocoa purposes. This is... not typical for Scotland in March.
posted by Catseye at 1:31 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Across much of the country. There are definitely areas (notably the north east) where January last year was comparable or worse.

Hi, part of north-east England here (Sunderland), currently on the second day of my employer being closed down, and the second day of my daughter's school being shut, probably going to run into tomorrow too. This is significantly worse than last year by some distance, and I don't know anyone who thinks otherwise. Everyone I've spoken to thinks that this is the worst we've had since 2010.
posted by reynir at 1:33 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Woke up this morning to proper snow at last! (Bristol.) Must go ransack the shops for bread and milk and loo roll shortly! But I swear it's warmer than yesterday, patches of brown tile are getting bigger on the rooves, and the traffic sounds slushy, so it's not time for shoe spikes yet.*

I wrote yesterday about the characteristic smell in the air in UK and somehow wrote cold and damp when I meant COAL and damp. The air smelt of COAL, all the time, it was pervasive, and striking if you weren't used to it. Well it did in the North, not so sure about London. After a day you couldn't smell it anymore.

they wish they were back in the cool and fresh days of late February/early March.
After you've been in a hotter, more vivid and much more precarious place, being in the grey and green damp temperate-ness of uk is so soothing. Hope I haven't jinxed anything writing that.

This is a really nice post, Wordshore.

*Never seen 'em in my life before but Lidl had them on special offer when they opened here so had to have them.
posted by glasseyes at 1:52 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


So my grandchild's been sent home because the schools have closed. Snow's tailing off and melting, though the sky's getting darker and it's got that weird yellow light to it.
Son: Have the schools closed?
Me: Yeah
Son: What's wrong with people?
Spouse: Exactly!
And now they're both grumbling to each other about their young day and uphill both ways. That boy is barely 30.
Anyway by my lights they neither of them have seen a proper, Narnia Winter, not being Northern and not being rural.
posted by glasseyes at 2:26 AM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


But do continue to laugh from countries with dedicated snowploughing, well practiced emergency services, yearly snowstorms ...

While local government may be surprised by the weather - it is always heartening to see the individuals who are super-prepared. Yesterday, on own short,Titus Oates like blizzard walk to my local Tescos - in the suburbs of the danger zone known as Edinburgh - I noticed somebody who had fitted a snowplough to his Land-rover, a woman who was being guided by a brace of yelping huskies and a guy who looked delighted to discover just how much beer can be loaded onto his kid's sledge.
posted by rongorongo at 3:17 AM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


And now they're both grumbling to each other about their young day and uphill both ways.

There is a proper barney on my hometown's Facebook page about the 1963 snow- 60 and 70 year olds who've all known each other forever arguing with each other about whether school was really shut, who walked furthest in the snow etc, who's dad shoveled the most snow. Terrific to be on the sidelines.
posted by threetwentytwo at 3:46 AM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


My father-in-law, who is in his seventies, claimed to us the other day that in the sixties it was like this all the time, and that there was snow on the ground from October until March every year.

And lo, there was much biting of tongues.
posted by reynir at 3:53 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


The air smelt of COAL, all the time, it was pervasive, and striking if you weren't used to it. Well it did in the North, not so sure about London

Probably not in London as you are not supposed to burn coal. See episode 1.4 of The Crown on Netflix for the reasons. The mayor has also suggested stopping wood burning in some areas of London quite recently.
posted by biffa at 4:05 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


My town Facebook group is currently co-ordinating lifts to work for carers and nurses from people with 4x4s, which is really lovely.

Meanwhile the M80 north of Glasgow is apparently tough going again with a lots of cars abandoned after last night and other people just home this morning after spending the night stuck there. Seems like emergency services and locals were doing a good job of welfare checks at least. But, while I’m sure many of those people also had absolutely no choice but to try driving in that, the news is managing to interview an awful lot of “well I left the office at 6pm as usual and thought it’d be fine, WHY DID THE GOVERNMENT NOT PREPARE BETTER?” folk. FFS, the red danger-to-life do-not-travel snow warnings that you ignored were part of that preparation...
posted by Catseye at 4:17 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


As an Eastern European who lived in the UK for 10 years and saw & experienced a lot of xenophobia long before it became fashionable, I'm seriously bothered by the 'beast from the east' moniker and the 'look what's coming from the east' chuckles all over the internet.
posted by miorita at 4:18 AM on March 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


you are not supposed to burn coal
That'll explain it. It was a whole sensory thing, a 'you are now approaching the land of the ancestors' thing. Re the 63 snow, there's a photo of my SIL then, aged about 8, on her way to school in the snow wearing a short coat with a hood, school skirt, bare legs, socks and ordinary shoes, and the snow piled up all around.

In the 30-odd years I've lived in Bristol I think there's been proper snow maybe four times? Otherwise we mainly get a few crisp, ice-dusted days and then a two-day flurry of snow February/March. After that it's all flowers and Spring bustin out all over.
posted by glasseyes at 4:25 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


reynir, he's from Sunderland, hes probably right.
posted by glasseyes at 4:35 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm also seeing quite a few videos of really dicey near-misses. The Lothian Buses drivers are doing some incredible driving to get people home.

What a hair-raising video. Especially knowing exactly where it was filmed, as I've been driving my daughter home from football training along that road over the winter.

In my almost two decades in Edinburgh we've had a handful of extended snow spells: the beginning and end of 2010, and March 2013, and apart from that just a day here and there. Some winters we've had none at all.

This is very unusual snow for us: dry and powdery, Rockies-style. Good skiing weather, if we could safely get the car out of the snow-covered side street and drive to the hills.

It doesn't feel particularly cold, though, when the wind drops. The cold isn't the problem, it's the nature of the snow - the place isn't geared up for it. It snowed for a few days in January, too, but that was fine - the kids went to school, we went to work. Now the kids are off school for a second day and will be again tomorrow; and my university is closed for the day. I can't remember the university ever closing because of snow before.
posted by rory at 4:55 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Scotland is closed. Please continue your life by alternative routes.

As are all the small shops in Tollcross, I guess because staff can't get in and there won't be any shoppers anyway. Haven't made the trudge to supermarkets to see how they're doing, but I can't see deliveries happening.

Edinburgh airport is closing completely at six this evening. A handful of flights have been getting out and in overnight and this morning, but most have been cancelled and ground movements have been somewhat problematic. I saw a regular cargo flight from East Midlands get in which normally goes to Glasgow; I'm not quite sure what the point of that was, but then the ways of airfreight are mysterious.

I expect most of the focus moving to the south in the media, as that's where Storm Emma has been mixing it up.
posted by Devonian at 5:16 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


A red alert has been issued for the entire island of Ireland, with the government asking everyone to stay indoors from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, and saying "No-one should be on the roads". I'm not sure if we are worse affected than the UK or just taking more precautions.

Meanwhile the entire country is going mad for bread to get them through the next day -- shops nationwide are reporting empty shelves. Supermarkets are all closing right around now, and the level of bread-hunger is baffling to me. I'm sitting in bed in a sleeping bag under the duvet, next to a travel kettle and a tin of biscuits.

The worst is supposed to come after 4pm, but so long as your pipes don't burst and you stay off the roads, I'd say it'll be grand.
posted by rollick at 5:24 AM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


Down in the southeast, the weather hasn't been as dramatic as it is in Scotland, but it has still been considerably colder and snowier than usual. It's the first real snow I've seen since I moved here in 2015; till this week, it's stayed stubbornly snow-free here even when the rest of the country's been posting pretty pictures of white landscapes and cheery snowmen on Facebook. The trains in Kent have been in such a mess that I've not even tried to get to work this week... fortunately, I can work from home, but considering how much I wouldn't enjoy walking to the shops, I'm glad I keep a well-stocked larder. And beer fridge. Meanwhile, the local ski slope has closed because there's too much snow.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:33 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm in central London, so the disruption hasn't been too bad here, but it is still bloody cold and windy, and I really resented having to go for a hospital appointment this morning. This is definitely the worst weather we have had for several years - when I looked out my big padded jacket from the back of the wardrobe it had a thin layer of dust over it. It's bright red, and, since I am short and fat, it makes me look like an insulated hot water tank with feet, but at least I wasn't cold. Then I had an hour or so hanging about in various waiting rooms and nearly collapsed from overheating.

The drafty Victorian house thing is quite right - my bedroom is ludicrously cold, as it faces the wind and has only one tiny radiator, so I have been sleeping on the living-room sofa.
posted by Fuchsoid at 5:36 AM on March 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Oh - and now we're running out of gas.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:48 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is my first significant snowfall as an Adult™ (as opposed to schoolchild or full time student) and I am v pleased to discover that my childlike glee in the anarchy of the snow day (and my childlike wonder at its beauty) have not abated one bit. Helps that I got to miss work yesterday and fingers crossed today. Also helps that this is so out of the ordinary for Cornwall that everyone seems cheerful and excited rather than gloomy and complaining.

Sure am wishing my single glazed Georgian-era windows didn't face East, however. Electric blanket turned up to 3.
posted by mymbleth at 5:53 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


> "Scotland is closed ... As are all the small shops in Tollcross"

My dental appointment this morning over at Citrus Dental Care actually happened, albeit half an hour later than planned and with a different dentist, but my eye appointment at the Black & Lizars on Lothian Road did not.

And next time I will try harder not to schedule all of my appointments on epic blizzard days.
posted by kyrademon at 5:54 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Anyone working in health or emergency services today has my sympathies, and gratitude for their service. Fingers crossed for a week without unnecessary fatalities.
posted by rollick at 5:58 AM on March 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


My cat went out, peed in the snow, came back and ate (drank?) some garlic soup. The latter is not his usual way, he despises human food, but must have thought it was the weather for it. He's just gone out again, in the teeth of a blizzard, but that's because he really doesn't like The Archers.
posted by paduasoy at 6:05 AM on March 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


Boo, Edinburgh University is opening again tomorrow so I'll have to trudge in to the office. On foot, I suppose, as I wouldn't trust my usual bike ride on these roads. Looking out the window at the current blizzard, it's hard to see how it's going to be much different tomorrow, but perhaps they're expecting on overnight influx of warm air from the Azores.
posted by rory at 6:29 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Had a nap. A combined positive of getting older, being self-employed and working from home, is that it's oft possible to comfortably get through a few hours of bad weather by having a nap. Looking outside (East Midlands) there's hardly any snow on the ground, traffic is moving, people are walking around but they look extremely wrapped up.

A few other positive things have noted just now:

1. Jacob Rees-Mogg's place may apparently become cut off later today. No idea if he is inside, and if this may be a long term thing, but there is hope.

2. It is nice that the first headline on the news is not "The EU and Theresa May disagree over Brexit" / "The cabinet disagree over Brexit". As it has been since what feels like the beginning of time.

3. Less than 300 days till Christmas now (299 to be more precise). Time to make a list; rock on.
posted by Wordshore at 6:30 AM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


Jacob Rees-Mogg's place may apparently become cut off later today.

That's because it's experiencing worse weather than us - it's currently in the grip of the Little Ice Age of 1705.
posted by reynir at 6:41 AM on March 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


the news is managing to interview an awful lot of “well I left the office at 6pm as usual and thought it’d be fine, WHY DID THE GOVERNMENT NOT PREPARE BETTER?” folk. FFS, the red danger-to-life do-not-travel snow warnings that you ignored were part of that preparation...

I have two neighbours like that here; their "logic" falls along these lines, all of which I've heard/endured several times each:

- My car costs a lot of money to keep on the road, and the government takes a lot of money from me in petrol tax and other car-related taxes, and therefore I should be able to drive any time 24/7 because I know my rights. (as usual, anyone who finishes their statement with "I know my rights" ... doesn't).
- I worked hard to afford this car and therefore I have the right to enjoy using it and Jeremy Corbyn will no doubt want to take it away from me as soon as he gets into power.
- Walking/public transport is for losers.
- I have a car therefore I will drive my car.
- Driving to the bookmakers / the corner shop / to see my lady friend who is not my wife but there's nothing going on and it is not true that she closes the curtains when people visit and it is not anyone else's business anyway *is* an essential journey.
- Britain is a nation and once had an Empire that ruled the world and we are self-reliant and nothing has ever stopped us going about our business and ... {drift into the usual unpleasant politics, at which point I remember I have something in the oven and leave}
posted by Wordshore at 6:55 AM on March 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


My car costs a lot of money to keep on the road, and the government takes a lot of money from me in petrol tax and other car-related taxes, and therefore I should be able to drive any time 24/7

People do love to confuse "able" and "allowed" - you're not banned from taking to the roads, but that doesn't mean that you CAN drive anywhere.
posted by Dysk at 7:04 AM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


There was ice on the INSIDE of my Victorian sash windows this morning. Something I have heard older people talk about from their childhoods but (thankfully) not experienced before now. I feel I can hold my head high and no longer feel like a soft Bristol lass complaining about the cold.
posted by RandomInconsistencies at 7:08 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


Big accident on the M66 near Ramsbottom (yes, non Brits, that is a place). No serious injuries, but a lot of crumpled looking vehicles accumulating snow.
posted by Wordshore at 7:12 AM on March 1, 2018


Jacob Rees-Mogg's place may apparently become cut off later today.

Presumably some badly clothed sooty faced child will hobble along later to offer him some matches from beneath her shawl whilst her father chips the ice from his beard to utter deferential words to the guvnor himself?
posted by RandomInconsistencies at 7:14 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


FWD is not just fine, it's the best in the snow. AWD will help you move faster, but all cars have all-wheel brakes, so you won't stop any faster. Thus, AWD just gives you more opportunity to get into trouble. RWD is fun in snow/ice.

No car on regular tires, FWD or AWD will stop promptly on snow or ice when you have a µ somewhere around 0.2. Get proper snow tires. Get an AWD because you'll be able to accelerate which means you'll be able to turn.

I have snow tires on my FR-S just in case (it costs like $300 for rims + $600 sunk cost on the rubber which gets recovered over a few seasons, come on people) and even if I leave my summer tires in the back for ballast (somewhere in the region of 120lbs over the rear axle) it still has trouble getting up the driveway when there's snow where the wife's 328xi will just go up like it's dry pavement. That being said, you are correct and it's fun as fuck being able to go full on dorifto at 15mph on city streets in a blizzard.
posted by Talez at 7:22 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


There's not enough snow in most of Britain to warrant snow tires, really. Winter tires are a good idea though, because it does get cold and damp enough that they seriously outperform the summer or all-season tires that are standard here for about half the year. Very few people bother, of course - that would be far too sensible.
posted by Dysk at 7:33 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


That being said, I actually had to race the 6 mile trek from home to my wife's work in the middle of the Feb 7th storm in my FR-S because of a medical emergency (she busted her knee, couldn't walk, she's on the mend). In a car that's normally setup with stiffer suspension at the rear you can feel the rear end twitching and it's just a tad nerve wracking driving through pretty bad snow trying to get somewhere with actual people on the road. I was unbelievably relieved when I could switch to her AWD BMW.
posted by Talez at 7:38 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Brits who mocked me for buying four boxes, each containing one hundred Jaffa Cakes, and are now in supermarkets looking at empty shelves with a rising sense of panic: where is your God now? Hmmm?
posted by Wordshore at 7:40 AM on March 1, 2018 [20 favorites]


Don't gloat, Wordshore, or the looters are going to come to your place for tea first. AND THEY WON'T WAIT FOR AN INVITATION.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:56 AM on March 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


It appears that nobody has yet made "the wrong type of snow" comment in this thread, so even though I'm across the pond, I wish to do my part.
posted by stannate at 8:00 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


Very few people bother, of course - that would be far too sensible.

I think I understand your point, but could you perhaps make it a little more explicitly?
posted by ambrosen at 8:01 AM on March 1, 2018


or the looters are going to come to your place for tea first

Let them try. The drawbridge is up, and the moat is salted so it does not freeze over. Every English person for his or her self. #GoodTrainingForFutureTimes.
posted by Wordshore at 8:02 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Good god man, it's Lent! Have you no pity?
There's some special editing going on in that Bristol Evening Post report:
Asda in Longwell Green has reportedly already ran out of bread and milk this morning, while the break aisle in Sainsbury’s Portishead is also completely baron.
posted by glasseyes at 8:10 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I will spare you my written Bristol accent, but assure you if we were all in the same place and you could hear it in person, you'd be in awe (read:agony).

Also it just started snowing here so I'm thinking of you, friends across the pond. Stay warm!
posted by elsietheeel at 8:17 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Nae whoorries, Moi luvverrr
#biculturality

Oh, it's coming down now alright!
posted by glasseyes at 8:26 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think I understand your point, but could you perhaps make it a little more explicitly?

Sure. The insurance industry should be incentivising this kind of sensible behaviour, instead of ignoring or occasionally even punishing it (by classing winter tires as a modification, increasing premiums), or legislation should be brought in to incentivise or require it (higher tax levy if you don't, for example, or just bringing in some regulation to force insurers to recognise and reward it). Instead, you have a government and industry utterly unconcerned with the same, and a widespread perception - in part fueled by a widespread belief that it doesn't get cold enough here for winter tires (which are generally optimised for temperatures of a handful of degrees above freezing) which nobody in any position to tackle shows any interest in. Of course, individuals could choose to do it off their own back, but that's rarely how anything works here is it? There is a defeatism at play, similar to the one that uses the logic of "we have a lot of terribly insulated housing stock from victorian times" as a reason not to mandate better insulation (or construction standards) for even new builds. "Invest in quality" does not seem to be a British value, particularly, at any level or scale.
posted by Dysk at 8:28 AM on March 1, 2018


It appears that nobody has yet made "the wrong type of snow" comment in this thread, so even though I'm across the pond, I wish to do my part.

Oh - its the wrong type of snow here alright! Brits might want to study the linked "Types of Snow" page - just so as to know your Zastrugi from your Snirt when attempting to boast to Canadians.
posted by rongorongo at 8:37 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


There are only two types of snow:

1: The kind that British trains can get through (n=0).
2: The rest.
posted by biffa at 8:48 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


Under the duvet, taking a break from work and looking at The Twitter:

@MaxfieldEd: "Stuck on the A146. Nothing’s moving. Earlier I bought milk eggs bananas and salted caramel spread in the supermarket. If all else fails I will set fire to the car and make pancakes."

@SouthernRailUK: "Due to an 8 foot icicle in a tunnel at #Balcolmbe, services between Brighton and Gatwick are subject to delay. Engineers are working to remove this icicle."

@katebevan: "Snowmageddon, Day 97. Snow continues to fall out of a leaden sky. The city is silent, apart from the screams of the weak as they're killed and eaten. The supermarket shelves are empty. The nation is under its duvet, eating toast and watching Netflix."

@Sporf: "OFFICIAL: Arsenal are asking for volunteers to help shovel snow around the stadium ahead of tonight's game with Man City. The club is confident if they can get enough snow onto the pitch...they can get the match called off."
posted by Wordshore at 9:42 AM on March 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


This reminds me of my first proper winter in the UK. It was a lot like glasseyes story.

The window in my in-law's house was/is stuck open, letting periodic blasts of cold air in. The heating didn't/doesn't work on any of the upper floors and is a joke on the ground floor. It was the first time I slept without heating since losing power during some Nor'Easter in the 1990s. I would put socks over my hands to keep them warm and my eyes would involuntarily water.

Now I've got some kaiiro from a trip to Japan and two hot water bottles and hopefully we'll be fine as long as my company is closed tomorrow.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:17 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


My cat went out, peed in the snow, came back and ate (drank?) some garlic soup.

Garlic is extremely poisonous to cats.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:29 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Asda in Longwell Green has reportedly already ran out of bread and milk this morning

One wonders if they ran out of eggs as well. In the US, bread+milk+eggs = French toast, and one sees a run on all three when a storm is imminent.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:11 AM on March 1, 2018


Garlic is extremely poisonous to cats

Yeah, might be worth ringing the vet, although if it was just a few laps I suspect the amount of garlic won't cause a problem. You probably should keep an eye on the cat for signs of illness or lethargy, even then.
posted by howfar at 11:12 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, as far as making fun of people not dealing well with the snow:

Washington D.C. - Because I had a work trip there that had two rare snowstorms in a week. Snow piled up everywhere. Stupid rental car barely had an ice scraper.

Chicago - Because they elect their mayors in March elections, and because one year, one mayor lost a reelection bid over poor response to a blizzard weeks before the election. Since then, every mayor has been conspicuously on the job during severe weather, just in case.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:20 AM on March 1, 2018


rory -- University of Edinburgh has overcome its, er, fit of optimism and will now be closed tomorrow.
posted by kyrademon at 11:27 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


Garlic is extremely poisonous to cats

Thanks. He's fine, but will keep it away from him in the future.
posted by paduasoy at 11:30 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


The power went out five minutes ago. I'm already bored. And the last time this happened it was out for something like four days. Streaming TV and the internet have ruined my mind.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:52 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


According to this twitter thread it costs approx. $15m to clear one snowfall from one city. It makes sense to invest that much in preparing and clearing snow if you get it on a regular basis. And once a year is not regular, it makes more sense to just stay off the roads for a few days.

That being said this snow is like nothing I have ever seen in my 39 long years in Ireland. Supposedly 1982/3 was as bad, but that's quite a while ago. Yes we've gotten snow in most recent years but that's usually a flurry that clears off fairly quickly. We do not usually get more than 2cms of snow. I've never ever seen snow like this before (photo of my drive). It's cool, I'm indoors and have water and bread and milk, and a fire and heating oil, so I get to enjoy it. But my drive home from work yesterday (I left early) was not great. Our county council has ten snow ploughs, I think, and while Westmeath isn't a huge county thats a lot of ground to cover. I passed one on my journey, and that is the first time I have ever seen one in use in real life. My journey home was not fun, and even before my employee announced today and tomorrow were closed I had decided I wouldn't be going in.

So yeah, this is pretty exceptional weather.
posted by Fence at 12:01 PM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Thanks, kyrademon, I saw their email. Will probably still go out for a Scott of the Antarctic trek tomorrow, but down to the canal instead to watch confused ducks skate along the ice.

This deathly silence a second night in a row is eerie. We live on two bus routes - didn’t see any today.
posted by rory at 3:18 PM on March 1, 2018


Despite weather warnings of dire consequences, I did the outside thing. Partially as I was bored, partially as was curious as there were other people walking about and it wasn't snowing (I appear to live in a place which snow largely avoids) and partially as I'd eaten sprouts with my dinner and was aware that being inside an apartment that I'd sealed while ... nature took its course ... was suddenly not a great idea.

So despite being in England in March, I dressed up for Iowa in December and emerged. And - it was okay, really. Didn't feel that cold (but then again, five years of living in the Outer Hebrides tends to skew the definition of cold). The wind was fresh when it suddenly gusted into the exposed part of the face, but otherwise fine.

I went into Tesco and it was really quiet - more staff than customers. In fact, more staff than usual which was odd. Did several laps of the aisles and the store in general as, hey, it's warm and I haven't been out or to the gym today so might as well get a few steps in. There didn't appear to be any shortages of essentials (here, here and here), so I bought a few bits and pieces and headed back in a meandering way. The only people met being a dog walker with the world's unhappiest dog, and the usual labourers who inhabit a bench close to the church and drink cheap beer, no matter the weather. One of them was wearing a hat tonight, which was unusual, so guess it was cold.

And after a walk around pleasantly quiet streets I'm back, to reseal myself in here for the eveni... dammit I really should not have eaten those sprouts.
posted by Wordshore at 3:35 PM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


I just want it on record that it took me three hours to travel 13 miles this evening. About 25 minutes from my place of work to the gleaming spires of Birmingham and the rest of the time getting across the city and about four miles out the other side to home. Not even through the centre, just round it. I found myself speaking quite loudly to other road users from the privacy of my own driver's seat and may have used foul and abusive language on occasion, while pausing to admire the mad driving skillz of some people who obviously didn't think the advice to drive carefully and slowly applied to them, and neither apparently did the frankly abysmal meteorological conditions.

I am now in a warm and cozy bed only slightly discomfited by the fact that the dog has managed to annex the hot water bottle at my feet without any discernible physical movement on his part.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 4:19 PM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


We are in central Edinburgh and our local Tesco is completely out of fresh milk, nearly out of veg of most kinds, mostly out of bread and rapidly running out of fresh meat, poultry etc.

Weirdly, it's the cheap, nasty white bread they've sold out of first, not the relatively more nutritious wholemeal stuff. Don't know what to make of that. It's not quite apocalyptic yet - there's still loads of tins, lots of pasta etc. But the perishables are disappearing fast, I presume because the daily deliveries aren't getting through. Looks like it's supposed to ease off over today and tomorrow though and thaw Sunday/Monday.

Loving the quiet streets though. We live on a main road and it's normally chockablock with HGVs, buses and cars from 7am to 8 or 9pm every weekday. But I'm hearing perhaps one car every two or three minutes, going really slowly in the slush.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:52 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


It has been absolutely lovely driving in Leeds during the "storm". Nearly everyone else is off the roads which means no traffic. I was able to drive home for lunch (and also just home after work is done) in about 20 minutes, which is a 30-40 minute drive normally with the traffic. In extremely bad cases it has taken over 90 minutes. I'm originally from Vermont, so I'm not scared by some snow and have lots of experience of driving in it. I learned to drive in a small mazda pickup with rear wheel drive, so driving home uphill at an odd angle but somehow still going straight uphill isn't an odd occurrence to me. When I first moved here and there was more "typical English snow" meaning about 1.5 cm of a slushy covering on things. I was the only person who made it into lab, but I walked in wearing boat shoes without socks and jeans, polo shirt and a windbreaker (because it was only 0 to -1) but the university was nearly empty due to the snow. We've got enough provisions in, and emergency backup heat in the case of loss of electricity or the loss of gas, but nothing if we lose both. It is quite odd to finally see a proper minor snow event after all of these years, unfortunately all of my cold weather gear is back at my parents house in VT so I can't really go out and enjoy it fully. I am tempted to go out and walk around barefoot though just to scare the neighbours a bit.
posted by koolkat at 2:13 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Other MeFites of Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe: what's it like outside where you are?
posted by Wordshore at 2:42 AM on March 2, 2018


Actually looked at the links now. The snow picketers are good.

I am playing this: Goodbye England Covered in Snow.
posted by paduasoy at 2:43 AM on March 2, 2018


I'm on the Wirral/Merseyside, and it's very cold, and we've got really high winds, making it seem even colder, but very little snow. It's not really preventing anyone from going about their business, aside from some issues with Merseyrail, and the last I heard, the Mersey ferries are still operating much as usual. The wind really does suck a lot, though, and I am hoping that it dies down a bit before I have to go out. Pity my poor husband who is working down in London this week, and looking at a bunch of cancelled trains. Fortunately, he had the sense to book a hotel for tonight in the event he is stranded.
posted by skybluepink at 2:53 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was disappointed to open the curtains to find the 4 inches of snow that were down by bedtime last night were pretty much all gone. The >50mph wind due by 3pm yesterday finally got here in the night but now its just as windy as it often is in Cornwall in the winter. However, my employer declared a snow day shutdown last night and there are no backsies!
posted by biffa at 3:08 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


About 4 inches or so around the garden here in Sunderland, Wordshore. Main roads through the city slushy but ok, but our estate is horrible to get through, very icy/compacted now. Enjoyed wandering into the garden though and looking to see where each cat comes in (or in our case, goes out) and does it's little territory walk.

Schools here off for the third day running, which I can't remember happening at all. I work in the University, and we closed Weds at noon and remain closed today, which is the first time in the 27 years I've been there. A lot of our academic staff don't live here, and come from quite a distance, and we have quite a lot of commuter students too. Not just a case of opening up buildings for students to slog in only to find that their session is cancelled.

I was meant to be on a train to London at 6:45 this morning, but it was cancelled, none of the others on, and if I went up to Newcastle to catch one Virgin are running a reduced service and advising not to travel. Not fancying spending most of the day stuck on a train for the sake of a four hour meeting I might not reach, so just working at home.

When I say working, I mean working interspersed with eating. I think I have some race memory through my ancestors which compels me to stuff my face with fatty food when the temperature drops.

It's all really rather pleasant.
posted by reynir at 3:30 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]




Weirdly, it's the cheap, nasty white bread they've sold out of first, not the relatively more nutritious wholemeal stuff. Don't know what to make of that.

Sausage sandwich bread, its called in our house. Cheap white bread and richmond sausages. Food of the gods.

The snow is mostly stopped here in Manchester, but it still feels horrendously cold. I'd go out, of course, but for the sake of the tot I am selflessly staying in to watch Moana. Again.
posted by threetwentytwo at 3:49 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


That Edinburgh bus driver was Charmaine Laurie by the way (10:14 on this page) .
posted by epo at 4:10 AM on March 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


(Minor art and culture derail)

What do Brits do when it snows? It's practically obligatory to do this, or to make a statue like one in Devon. Cars are a good tapestry for this form of creativity, though one should not be too distracted when viewing. This is an activity not restricted to adults, and countries such as Ireland also cheerfully participate.
posted by Wordshore at 4:15 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


Other MeFites of Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe: what's it like outside where you are?

South Yorkshire here, and the worst of it has passed us. We had near-whiteout conditions a couple of days ago, but now it's all just residual ice and slush with high winds. It's supposedly going to finally get above freezing on Sunday, but I'll believe it when I see it.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:43 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


epo, you can link directly to individual posts on the BBC Breaking News page. Like this one from someone who thinks that the Bear Grylls solution to having no drinking water (frozen pipes) is to melt a pan full of snow. It's as if whoever writes that page doesn't even meme.
posted by ambrosen at 4:54 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


One of my nieces has just rung my dad in tears because her boss has told her to come in (to her job in a restaurant no-one is going to be going to!) or she'll get fired. This is Welsh border land, which is on red alert and looks deeper than anything I've ever seen there, and there are numerous reports of traffic accidents already. Its all very well telling people not to make unnecessary journeys and listen to what the warnings are saying, but when you've got your job to worry about losing, its very hard not to make what should be a stupid decision and try to go.

[My dad's trying to talk her out of it.]
posted by threetwentytwo at 5:11 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'd like to just note the broader political problem: since George Osborne brought in the misconceived austerity program in 2010, local government funding has been cut by around 30% throughout the UK. And it is almost entirely local government agencies who have to deal with weather emergencies. It's no wonder they're under-equipped for this.

We fared slightly better in Scotland (devolved government, run by the SNP who don't hold with Tory crap and are fighting a rearguard battle against it) but as the Tories still plan to cut local government funding by a full 50% from 2010 levels by 2020, and this sort of thing recurs, and we have a huge homelessness crisis because Tories disapprove of the disabled and unemployed, you can fill in the dotted line ...
posted by cstross at 5:20 AM on March 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


My boiler's not working - trying to decide whether it's irresponsible to ask someone to come out to look at it, given the condition of the roads.
posted by paduasoy at 5:33 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I hope your dad does talk her out of it, threetwentytwo, and our niece finds a job with an employer who is not so exploitative.

Worth a bit of local press and facebook-shaming if employer does sack her, too.
posted by reynir at 5:35 AM on March 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


How dangerous is snow left on a vehicle roof? Pretty dangerous.
posted by Wordshore at 5:50 AM on March 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yes, cstross, it's awful seeing homeless people in this weather. Must write to my useless MP. Last action he took was getting a multi-storey closed at night because users found the homeless people sleeping there intimidating.
posted by paduasoy at 5:55 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I hope your dad does talk her out of it, threetwentytwo

Luckily, and bless him for doing this on behalf of the largely teenage staff, the head chef's sent round a group WhatsApp that none of them are to try to go in and not to worry. My dad might stop being furious about the lack of care for his granddaughter's safety at some point in the summer.
posted by threetwentytwo at 6:04 AM on March 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Super dangerous! In the US there are only 11 states that have laws requiring snow removal, but most states have cities and towns that have adopted their own laws requiring it, which is nice, because there are few things worse than driving down the freeway and having a massive snow block come flying at you. Even if it doesn't hurt you, it's still a terrifying adrenaline freakout.

People in also don't seem to know that it's the law in California that you have to turn on your headlights in rain or any sort of inclement weather that affects your vision. If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on. And as much as I hate automatic running lights, I'd support headlights that came on once your wipers were on for more than a minute.

And oh yeah, my power was out for only an hour. Just enough time for me to finish my book. I didn't even have to light a single candle or oil lamp or cook my dinner on my woodstove. Hooray!
posted by elsietheeel at 6:05 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


Other MeFites of Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe: what's it like outside where you are?

Frankfurt's been a bit colder than usual for this time of year, but we seem to have missed the worst of it. No snow that I've seen, though there may be a flurry or two this afternoon apparently.
posted by scorbet at 6:07 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Here in West Lothian I have battled through the calf-deep snow and made it to the pub. Town doing pretty well at ploughing and gritting main roads (and pavements), main hazard seems to be two-foot-long icicles hanging off every gutter in threatening Sword of Damocles style. Tesco is sold out of milk, bread, most meat and all fresh veg except tomatoes (why?), but is doing a roaring trade in half-price Easter eggs.
posted by Catseye at 8:15 AM on March 2, 2018


Swansea has had snow - settled, at that - for the first time in years. Not a lot, but enough to repel less adventurous cats, bring out optimistic tobogganers and close the uni (the epic snow towards Cardiff where a lot of people come in from has a lot to do with that though). Blanket cape weather rather than the end of days, basically.
posted by Otto the Magnificent at 8:34 AM on March 2, 2018


Here the icy cold has left for a gentler cold with big fluffy snowflakes that become the best snow for tobogganing and snowman-building. There's almost a holiday feel on the streets right now. ☃️
posted by mumimor at 9:24 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Walked to the shop a couple of hours ago. The road that mine is off, and which is very steep, has been closed - several abandoned cars - and there were around a hundred people sledging. All very community partyish. I could probably have made good money by supplying hot drinks.

No milk or bread at shop, and as I heard someone exclaiming, "No Doritos!" Plenty of fruit, veg, meat though.
posted by paduasoy at 10:25 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


We got like six inches of snow overnight and my mom is bringing her dog over to play in my yard (which is fully fenced, hers isn't) and I just shoveled my driveway. I didn't need to, but I did it anyway because I had a snow shovel and I'd never used it for snow before.

I know I'm not in the UK and I promise I'm not trying to co-opt your polar vortex, but this is my first real winter and I'm super excited. I just shoveled snow voluntarily and made up a song while I did it!
posted by elsietheeel at 10:46 AM on March 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


I have 178 Jaffa Cakes left.
posted by Wordshore at 11:07 AM on March 2, 2018 [11 favorites]


All well in Bristol, shops of course sold out of milk and bread, I'm surprised our local shops opened at all. Yesterday I thought I was clever to try lay in stocks of salt, only to find other people had been cleverer and there was no salt to be found. Ah well. That won't be an issue till this stuff starts thawing and freezing.

One annoying thing: the offspring that was doing the most tutting about people panic buying turned out not to have done their own panic buying so ran out of milk and bread today. I'm trying not to roll my eyes so hard it's audible over the phone.
posted by glasseyes at 11:13 AM on March 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Wordshore, I almost bought some Jaffa Cakes on my trip out in homage to you, but thought it would be weird.
posted by paduasoy at 11:16 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Curse you, Jaffa Man! Flaunting your decadence in threads!
posted by glasseyes at 11:16 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


I was really rattling - I don't do lent for religion but as some kind of discipline/reminder sort of thing - getting hard cravings for sugar and cream, so my daughter kindly got in some snacks. Which, somehow, just knowing they are there the anxiety has gone and I don't need them anymore. I can just look at them and feel virtuous. I do not know how this works at all.
posted by glasseyes at 11:20 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have given up coffee for Lent and I have now run out of all sweet beverages and sugary things, so I am getting... a bit... twitchy. Fully prepared to send a raiding party out to wherever Wordshore lives (I'm picturing Dibley?) and carry away whatever Jaffa Cakes remain.

Also it is snowing here AGAIN. Did we finally break the gulf stream?
posted by Catseye at 11:38 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Buy some coffee and look at it! Tell it it's not good enough and you'll wait for the more specialer coffee! Find a packet of sugar and insult it! This may mightily relieve you*.
no guarantee, no money back if not satisfied
posted by glasseyes at 11:52 AM on March 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Someone is selling 6 slices of Warburton’s medium-sliced for £250 on our local Facebook buy and sell.
posted by Catseye at 1:20 PM on March 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


The dog had the goddamn time of his life. The snow in my front yard was perfectly smooth before he came over. The good (?) news is that we're supposed to get another 4-6 inches overnight so he can come over tomorrow and muck it all up again.

(And yeah, that's him eating snowballs. His favorite treat is ice cubes. I'd wonder if dogs can have pica, but he also eats charcoal bits from in front of the wood stove, so I'm just going to say yes, they can and yes he does.)
posted by elsietheeel at 1:45 PM on March 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Ireland now has one less Lidl supermarket and its safe than it had before the snowstorm. The local community are very unimpressed.
posted by Wordshore at 3:22 PM on March 2, 2018


(It's a bit weird seeing social media blow up about the stolen JCB ripping into a supermarket over in Ireland. Here in rural Leicestershire, ATMs being ripped out of supermarkets in the night are a regular - no, a frequent - thing. To the extent that sometimes if you hear a big bang outside, so long as it's not your car then locals will now phone the police and go back to bed. Just yet another ATM being stolen, though really annoying when half the shop or supermarket gets demolished in the process; here's how it's done around these parts.)
posted by Wordshore at 3:55 PM on March 2, 2018


@katherine_92: Just watched a woman watch her train get cancelled on the board at Charing Cross and she went “ah fuck this!”, unscrewed a bottle of White Zinfandel and took a swig. And she’s my hero tbh.

@londonlass666: Does anyone else find it ironic that Local News Reporters leave a warm, dry studio to drive around looking for somewhere really snowy to broadcast from, only then to inform the public that the authorities are advising people not to make unnecessary journeys?

@jimsyjampots: I described my journey into work as "Unpleasant but doable," which coincidentally is also my Tinder bio.
posted by Wordshore at 4:30 PM on March 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


So the hot water tank burst last night. It's in the attic. Not cold related, but the following woes were:while water was pouring through the ceiling on two floors, the stopcock was frozen seized. We could not get it loose even with the aid of half the toolkit. Took two hours to find an emergency plumber who was willing to get through the snow to come out. When he got here, he sheared the handle off the stopcock trying to close it. He eventually got the attic supply isolated, but now we have an inch of water everywhere and no heat or power. And we've only slept a couple of hours (did I mention that this all kicked off at about 2am?). Getting a pub breakfast and coffee and charging our phones, and then time to start i figuring out just how much of our stuff is ruined. Wish me luck.
posted by Dysk at 3:43 AM on March 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oh and staying in the house at this juncture is a miserable health hazard. Couch surfing :/
posted by Dysk at 3:47 AM on March 3, 2018


Oh no! Sorry to hear that, Dysk. Hope breakfast and coffee are good at least.
posted by paduasoy at 4:34 AM on March 3, 2018


ugh, Dysk. Hoping your stuff’s not too bad and the house is warm and dry again soon.
posted by Catseye at 5:24 AM on March 3, 2018


Dysk, that's horrendous. Hope it gets sorted quickly.
posted by reynir at 7:00 AM on March 3, 2018


Oh dear, Dysk. Good luck with everything.
posted by mumimor at 7:21 AM on March 3, 2018


Breakfast and coffee were excellent. We got the laptop and newest desktop safe, and a couple others wet but off so hopefully they can just dry out. An electrician has confirmed that the wiring in the house is both nonsensical and dangerous, but has managed to get a few plug sockets going for us, so we can at least run an electric heater and a dehumidifier (if we can get one in town). Trains are running, so we can get to the next city over and stay with some friends (even if it is Coventry). All the guitars and amps made it out, but a load of books didn't. Water damage specialist guy came and said the wallpaper needs stripping, the floors need to come up, and industrial grade ventilation and dehumidifiers will need to run for a few weeks before the electrics are likely to be safe. So that's a few weeks off staying with friends. All in all, it's a bit of a disaster, but it could easily have been much worse.
posted by Dysk at 8:17 AM on March 3, 2018 [8 favorites]


Dysk, this happened to us at this time of year in 2016. Half the house trashed 'cos we were away and it was 2-3 days before anyone went in to investigate.

Our contractors were beyond wonderful, the insurance company less so but in the end everything was reinstated to the highest specification. Despite this, the experience was horrendous. If you want our war stories on dealing with insurance companies etc, get in touch. The important thing right now is dry out the fabric of the house. We moved back in around October and loads of boxes still haven't been unpacked.
posted by epo at 10:47 AM on March 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


That sounds rough. It's not actually our house, so I don't know what the insurance situation is, but the landlady is a good friend of ours (and bandmate) who's charging us a shall we say very competitive rent, so unless her insurance is good, I foresee our rent going up (which will be manageable but not in any way fun). For now it just sucks not being able to go home. Hopefully Monday we'll have a better understanding of exactly what will happen when, but I imagine this will be dealt with thoroughly and well - it's our landlady's home normally too, she's just living in a different city for a couple of years on a project.
posted by Dysk at 11:13 AM on March 3, 2018


Stopcocks jamming is a thing by the way. Our plumber suggests you open the stopcock fully then close a couple of turns, doesn't affect water pressure noticeably but does reduce the likelihood of the tap sticking open.

Also when installing or modifying plumbing, place shut-off valves everywhere that water comes out e.g. cisterns (the cause or our 'incident'), this makes it easier to isolate individual areas.
posted by epo at 11:46 AM on March 3, 2018


I am officially on strike and then at midday they shut my campus down.

Same here. Picketing last week, I'm sure we fancied ourselves like this, but actually looked more like this, and the snow hadn't even started yet. Really chilly (and I used to live in Quebec!).
posted by busted_crayons at 4:01 PM on March 3, 2018


Sorry to hear about your leak, Dysk. I hope that everything comes round OK as quickly as it can.
posted by ambrosen at 4:24 PM on March 3, 2018


Hope you get somewhere both warm and dry speedily, Dysk.
posted by Wordshore at 5:54 PM on March 3, 2018


Went to Morrissons yesterday and they were completely out of potatos. Normally being a good northern supermarket they have an entire produce aisle devoted to spuds, of all types and sizes, but yesterday there wasn't a single potato left in the store. They had some of the usual preprocessed ones, some ready made mash, and the usual frozen aunt bessie, but nothing frush and uncooked. The person filling in the other veg said thay couldn't get them out of the ground, but I thought you were supposed to dig them up before the frosts hit, which is what I do on my allotment. Don't anybody worry, I've still got 5 kg left f my own home grown potatos so there will be enough to go with the roast tonight.
posted by koolkat at 2:48 AM on March 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Coming in far too late to the party, but the best way to get ice off the windshield is:
0. Get the car running; set HVAC to hot, no a/c, defrost.
1. knock off the loose stuff. Use a broom if possible.
2. If it's under 2mm, spray isopropyl alcohol directly on to the ice. From the top down. Start scraping.
3. If a heavier coating exists, chip out a small area near the top of the glass, and then pour a little isopropyl alcohol into the chipped out area. It will run down between the ice and glass, and make it much easier to remove.

Seriously. Rubbing alcohol. Does a world of good.
posted by notsnot at 6:02 AM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


Over in the Outer Hebrides, the land is still dry (if you spend time in the wind there you'll know why), so the wildfires have been getting worse the last few days.

In South Uist, a large one on Friday night. Last night on Barra there were several, one captured on video by a cousin of the local MP.
posted by Wordshore at 6:50 AM on March 4, 2018


Rubbing alcohol. Does a world of good.

This is my life's motto. I've got at least two gallons of it in various places around my house. It's useful for EVERYTHING.

We got about 3 inches the night before last and a dusting last night. Which is good because I had to dig my woodpile out yesterday afternoon and didn't really want to do it again when I have to go out and get more wood in about an hour. I'm hoping the lack of real snow and the warmer temps mean I can go to the store by myself this afternoon instead of taking the Mom Taxi.

Also I brought in some snow for the cats yesterday. Unlike the dog, they were generally unimpressed.

Finally I hope your life returns to unflooded, dry, and warm soon, Dysk. I had a hot water heater rust out through the bottom a few years ago, but it was in the laundry room of a one-floor ranch house, so basically, second-best case scenario. It was still stressful and traumatic as hell; I can't even imagine what it would be like in your situation. Good luck!
posted by elsietheeel at 8:05 AM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Daily Mail had a shitpost which was a gallery of people all dressed up on Friday night out in the snow. So let's ignore that, and look at the one in the Metro, which is celebrating people (mainly women) having fun, all dressed in their clubbing gear in the snow.
posted by ambrosen at 8:16 AM on March 4, 2018 [2 favorites]




@waynesmith1971: Quite simply the best 'snowman' I've ever seen

(also some of the reply-tweets to it)
posted by Wordshore at 4:30 PM on March 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


We are well into the thaw here in Scotland - and the supermarkets have their Italian loaves and paw paws again (although milk is still tricky to find). But a shout out to "Galanthus nivalis" - the common snowdrop - clumps of them re-emerging nonchalantly from a week under what was a 3 foot snowdrift without any damage at all to their flowers or stems. Wikipedia tells me that they are natives of Southern Europe - only being brought to Britain by the Romans.
posted by rongorongo at 9:39 PM on March 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hey everyone, GUESS WHAT!
posted by Catseye at 3:13 PM on March 11, 2018 [3 favorites]


I don't care what Liam Dutton has to say unless he's talking about the weather in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

(That's not true, I love everything you say Liam Dutton. You're precious and adorable and I love you.)
posted by elsietheeel at 4:33 PM on March 11, 2018


(There's another "the state of the UK" post up on the blue just now. It was going to be about the closely-related topics of dubious political deaths and Arsenal being crap at football - and how nice the Google translate voice speaks English swear words - but as the mods have changed the post address to 'sundry-UK-things' because the title otherwise broke it, guess other UK things things can be discussed there.)
posted by Wordshore at 10:19 AM on March 16, 2018


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