Published on 18 Jan 2013

Welcome to the Great British Snow Event

It is the wonderful muffled silence that overwhelms – the peace and beauty of wholesale disruption.

All last night from Northamptonshire across England to Worcestershire the snow came down though main roads remained well treated with grit/salt mix so it was easy enough to get around.

Not quite the case in the shadow of Malvern Priory this morning where the only real movement was clouds of sub-zero powder snow blowing off the roofs and buttresses of the deserted building and grounds.

All postal deliveries are suspended, red-uniformed posties in the sorting office playing the odd game of snowballs or simply looking at it coming down.

A couple of inches by breakfast – by late morning more like 4-5 inches and still tumbling down from a slow-moving front as I speak.

That front, very well forecasted for days in advance by the Met Office and beyond, just like the frontal snowfalls of recent winters that dumped around a foot of snow from Manchester to Oxford.

That said – you have to ask why commercial vehicles – articulated lorries especially -are out in this at all. There is no such thing as an essential journey in a commercial vehicle since they exist for, er, commerce.

Yes – including food deliveries which can wait a few hours for heaven’s sake, once or twice a year.

So why are they on the roads today in the very-well-forecasted blizzard?

Typically this morning the route towards the M5 from Malvern blocked by a lorry which has failed in a hill – not blocked by snow.

Result. Heavy congestion for miles back caused by just one vehicle the purpose of which was to be out in unsuitable conditions to make money.

Time and again it is the same issue every winter. The issue is rarely roads actually being impassable due to snow (though that did happen today) but far more often the problem caused by commercial HGVs which should be in depot until conditions ease.

Two large fleets were out in appalling yet completely predicted conditions. It’s time we started asking why?

No point in asking the public to stay off the road. Fact is most will heed but you will never reach those who will ignore.

Plenty of them out today along with drivers with the usual touching faith in their vehicles prior to going sideways downhill into the kerbside or worse.

And our old favourite of the 4×4 drivers at the wheel, with plainly not the slightest idea how to actually engage with four-wheel drive.

All of it part of the traditional Great British Snow Event – and days of it to come.

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5 reader comments

  1. Paul says:

    The importance of symbolism, a flag, a football club, in the bitterest sectarian divides in Glasgow and Belfast.

    The real life and death of thousands in Syria.

    Some snow.

  2. Kiz says:

    ‘You can leave your hat on! ‘

  3. Ray Turner says:

    I’ve just seen somebody being interviewed who said that they wanted more traffic on the roads today, because there were not enough vehicle movements to get the salt/grit mushed into the snow and able to do its job…

    It seems there is no right answer to Britain’s difficulties with snow…

  4. Steve Willis says:

    I walked 4.2 miles through to snow to work. I walked 4.2 miles to home after work. I think I’ll do it more often. I don’t drive because I don’t own a car, but I do use taxis or buses.

    If I did it every day, I would save a minimum of £20 a week and over a period of time lose a similar number of pounds in weight.

    Perhaps, we should all give it a go?

  5. Sheila says:

    In France when bad weather is forecast, HGV vehicles can be ordered off the roads by the police who escort them to either large parking areas or stack them on the hard shoulder. They stay there until it is safe to let them travel again. Seems to very effective.

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