This Snowy Week

Everyone has a story in conditions like these.

For those of you reading from outside the UK, our country is gripped by snow fever.

If you believe the stories from my previous industry then road-salt is running out, heating gas is running out, electricity is... you get the idea.

We prepare for the average winter, which in recent years has been mild, and consequently can't cope when it turns out to be a particularly severe winter, -22.3 Celcius on Thursday night in Altnahara.

This NASA satellite image was on almost every front page yesterday; the BBC ran a TV 'Snow Special' and its online site is dominated by snow stories; and everywhere people are coping as best they can.

We've been back in Scotland for a week now. As I wrote at the start of this week, very little snow has fallen here on the west coast since before Christmas, but what's on the ground is like concrete and going nowhere.

Look carefully at that NASA image. (Large file here).

Zoom in on Scotland's west coast, and I'm sure the white isn't as blanket a covering there.

Once we knew our neighbours were ok, we've concentrated on feeding the birds who visit our garden. How they survive these temperatures is astonishing.

Our local Pine Marten, (video) who we haven't seen much of this year, is also visiting again. If it's a 'she' then she's probably pregnant now. The kits will not appear until the spring.

And it comes to something when the sea is warmer than the air!

Loch Linnhe looked like it was steaming yesterday morning, with cloud hanging over it all the way from the south of Lismore to Fort William.

We had to venture there to stock up on food for all our dependent animals and ourselves.

Everywhere, people have snow stories.

The outdoor equipment store Blacks looked like it had a burst pipe, with the lights off in part of the store. All coffee machines in the supermarket cafe had failed. And much more.

But folk were coping. Folk always do.

The queues in the supermarket were longer than before Christmas.

Possibly because there were fewer staff on the tills (Liz's theory).

Or because customers were stocking up in order to make fewer shopping trips in the bad weather (my theory).

Still no signs of shortage.

And it seems the UK is far from being alone. We like to think that other countries cope well in the snow while the UK doesn't.

Well, it seems this cold snap it rather exceptional around Europe and indeed, around the world.

Friends in Norway are experiencing much the same with exceptionally cold temperatures near the coast and staggeringly low temperatures inland.

In this photo, a woman throws a cup of boiling water into the air then watches it fall to the ground as snow! You can watch it on video.

In the Lillehammer area and further north it's -45C.

So I guess we have no reason to complain just yet.


Solent Sea kayak said...

Down south we suffered from unnecessary panic buying - supermarket shelves in the bread, milk and dishwasher salt sections were completely bare! Had to take a pic of the bread aisle on my iPhone as proof for my wife!

Mark Sundin - Expedition Kayaks said...

40 degrees here in Sydney Simon, but heading to the UK and Estonia on Tuesday & looking forward to the bizarre phenomena of a 60 degree temperature differential from one end of a plane flight to another. Best not to pack my boardies eh?

Simon said...

Hey Hark
You are really going to shivvvver!
Bring lots of down kit!