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London Report: 1" Snowfall: London in Chaos!

London Report: 1" Snowfall: London in Chaos!

Mar 8th, 2007, 06:48 AM
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London Report: 1" Snowfall: London in Chaos!

London and snow. I chanced a few weeks ago to encounter London during one of its rare snowfalls - of a couple of inches of wet snow at most - to my mid-western US mind a brief dusting. But in London a paralyzing act of nature - trains and tubes were in chaos... roads were 'inpassable' for a few hours.

I was warned about how snow can snarl London and actually all of England pretty much after the first flake falls.
Shortly before i came to London, from France i had read in the Daily Telegraph on newsstands with the headline
1" SNOWFALL: LONDON IN CHAOS
And the article talked about how a mere inch of snow pretty much shut down the transport system of tubes, trains and roads for much of the day. Airports even were snarled.
And the article heavily criticized the sad state of affairs - seems snow is not unusual in a historical context in London but now a dusting of snow can't be coped with.

Whilst i understand roads being slippery and drivers not experience to winter driving having problems, i just don't understand why snow knocks out the tube or trains - can't the devices used to keep leaves off tracks do the same for snow?

The 2 inch snowfall i saw produced similar chaotic results in London - so London looks nice under snow but don't expect many things to be moving.

A fun thing about the snow was that schoolkids were having fun throwing snowballs in school yards. Even college students at London University around Northampton Square were having a huge snowball fight.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 8th, 2007, 07:02 AM
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The media in Britain enjoy what they think of as extremes of weather, and exaggerate the problems that it can cause. This is particularly true of newspapers like the Telegraph, whose readers believe that the world is going to hell, and like to blame this on the Labour government, or the European Union.

The problem in Britain is that the country runs at full capacity, and any small interruption has a major knock-on effect. When it snows in the mid-west U.S., you can drive a little more slowly and finish your journey safely. If you slide a bit, you probably won't hit anything. Driving too slowly in London causes major congestion, and minor accidents block the narrow streets. Traffic is confined to the roads that have been gritted, and this further exacerbates the problem.

The same is true of the tube and main line railways, where a small problem soon becomes magnified.

Snow in Britain is usually wet stuff, which can also make things worse. It also soon thaws, so what is a major problem in the morning has vanished by evening. Because snow is unusual, falling perhaps every two or three years, local councils do not have a lot of equipment or manpower to help deal with it.
chartley is online now  
Mar 8th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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There are a LOT of cities right here in the US where 1" of snow causes "chaos" too, Pal.
Dukey is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 07:06 AM
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Last year between Christmas and New Year's we saw Edward Scissorhands, the ballet, at Sadler Wells. It ends with big fluffy snow coming down on stage. We walked out into the dark London air and guess what -- the same big fluffy snow was coming down. It was remarkable and so like the stage effect. Nothing much happened with it and it soon stopped, but I thought it was nice that London did that for us.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 8th, 2007, 07:18 AM
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I live in Dallas and can tell you that any amount of snow is big news and causes lots of issues. We do get a lot of ice storms though and it understandably causes a lot of travel problems.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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CHAOS fits rather more easily into headlines than SOME PEOPLE A BIT LATE FOR WORK.

Where there is trouble on the tube (as there was not on my line), it is often a matter of the drivers of the early trains not getting into work on time, for whatever reason, and consequent knock-on effects. But it really wasn't anything like "chaos".
PatrickLondon is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 11:09 AM
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It's this way in Lausanne Switzerland too! I grew up in Massachusetts, lived in Boston during the famous Blizzard of '78 where I lost my car for a month under six feet of snow so when we get flurries here and everyone at work comes in late going on and on about how horrible the driving is and then on the news that night I see traffic jams and cars driving off the road, I die laughing.

Now I have a really good picture of the Blizzard saved in my computer and show it to my co-workers and just say, "Tell me about snowstorms."
beaupeep is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 11:20 AM
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They'd shit a brick if they got what Denver and some other cities got recently. A friend sent Me a picture of His Yard in Buffalo NY. Londoner's would be needin' prozac!
THERESA10 is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 11:21 AM
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Few facts about travelling in London

"Every day, about 30 million journeys are taken in Greater London:

* 6.3 million by bus
* 3 million by Tube
* 1.4 million by rail
* 150,000 on the DLR
* 11 million by car or motorcycle
* 7 million on foot
* 333,000 by bicycle"

www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/abt_tfl.asp

Add to that a system that runs at - and well beyond - capacity for several hours a day and you can see how small things can easily multiple out of hand (look up butterfly effect)

I would say you should be more surprised that the system doesn't have MORE major failures
alanRow is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 11:41 AM
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Sounds like the news reports we get in the SF/BayArea/Sacramento Valley when it rains Pal. Always such drama, lol. Gee it is normal to have rain in winter but the media makes it sound so shocking.
LoveItaly is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 11:45 AM
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Yeah, well you know the British press:

Mist shrouds Channel. Continent isolated.
Robespierre is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 11:51 AM
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If you live in a large, metropolitan area, even a small amount of snow, and many times just rain will cause severe problems with traffic. One accident at rush hour even on dry roads will have a major motorway backed up for miles. What's sad is when the media causes even more panic by making the weather...the news.
jewela is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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The Media in Detroit could have used a whacking recently. They called for like 10 inches of snow that never happened. They told people not to leave their homes unless it was urgent. It hurt my business bigtime. And for no reason either. Those dirty dishrags with crumbs and mayo "the worst kind"
THERESA10 is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 09:30 PM
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"Yeah, well you know the British press:

Mist shrouds Channel. Continent isolated."

And that appeared in which newspaper, when?

Shouldn't be a difficult question. Lots of libraries have full indexes for The Times and the Daily Telegraph. Two seconds' research would give the date.

Try looking for the "gullible people churn out French joke as if it were true" story at the same time.
flanneruk is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 10:22 PM
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It's (allegedly) from The Times in the mid-late 19 century when the British Empire was at it's height
alanRow is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 12:35 AM
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Maybe Robespierre was bantering.
Carrybean is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 04:39 AM
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I'll throw in another old chestnut (must be somewhere near its centenary):

"You need not try to bribe or twist
The honest British journalist;
For, seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there's no occasion to."

Or (another alleged example of journalistic hubris):

"Let the Tsar of Russia be warned: the Skibbereen Eagle has its eye on him!"
PatrickLondon is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 07:01 AM
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Well one day 1" of snow apparently caused some chaos in London

two weeks later when i was there it was said 4 inches fell - the most in 7 years and apparently the affect was not nearly as much as with the 1"

someone learned something so i suspect that lack of preparation caused the first chaos rather needlessly.

It does snow in London...rarely yes but seems someone should take some steps to prepare for it.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 9th, 2007, 10:01 AM
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There was a hooha over the first time (whether or not the local authorities had been warned in enough time to get the gritting machines out on the roads); the next time they overdid it, and an awful lot of people made very serious preparations - to be honest, to stay at home for the day.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Mar 9th, 2007, 10:20 AM
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<<< It does snow in London...rarely yes but seems someone should take some steps to prepare for it. >>>

Should you prepare for a one day event that occurs infrequently?
alanRow is offline  

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