The Weather Outside is Frightful

Posted on December 15, 2011

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December 17th 2009, was a typical December morning in Scotland. Freezing cold with the entire country counting down the days until their Christmas holidays began. Then it happened. Snow started to fall from the sky. Now we are no strangers to the white stuff in Scotland but this was no ordinary snow. It just kept falling and falling, before we knew it the whole country was under one massive white fluffy blanket. For a while, it was great.  Kids were out playing and the rest of us just stared in amazement and said “aww look how pretty the snow is.” This lasted about an hour.

We were soon to realise that “The big Freeze” was about to bring the entire country to a standstill. Schools were closed, people were trapped on motorways for hours, the entire transport industry came to a halt stranding thousands while thousands more were trapped in their own homes.

Once we all sufficiently thawed out we demanded answers. The government was left red in the face over how unprepared Scotland, a country known for its poor weather. Not to worry though, as the Scottish government gave us the classic school boy in trouble apology, “Sorry, it won’t happen again”. We reluctantly accepted this. Some of us may of mutter under our breath that it shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but we were probably too cold to argue back.

Fast forward to December 16th 2010.I look out my bedroom window just in time to see some poor old dear do an involuntary summersault and land face first in the snow. I’ve seen this somewhere before I thought to myself. A quick look at my calendar had confirmed my worst fears. I had not sleep driven the De Laurent up to 88mph and gone back in time to 2009. Scotland was being held to ransom by snow once again.

Predictably, the outcome was the same. Schools closed, transport non-existent etc. This time we really demanded answers. This time the SNP told us that the effect of the bad weather was an “unavoidable act of God”.  Whether or not it was an act of God is open to personal opinion and belief. However, what is not up for debate is that it was anything but unavoidable. We all knew it was coming. The government had a whole year to amend the failures of the previous winter and if anything we were even more unprepared.

It was unacceptable that people had to spend the night in their car trapped on the motor way in freezing conditions. It was unacceptable that the more frail members of society were unable to leave their house as councils didn’t have enough salt to grit roads, streets and pavements. It was unacceptable that thousands of people were left stranded in their work place with no way to get home. The people of Scotland were victims of two things during the winter of 2010, the snow and a negligent unprepared government.

This December so far, we have seen flooding due to heavy rain, slight snowfall and icy conditions and of course the infamous “Hurricane Bawbag”. The new tactic this year seems to be “shut down everything before it gets too bad”. On the surface this may seem like a reasonable and safe idea.  It is however a costly one that will damage the economy if we decide to just call it a day any time bad weather threatens. It also leaves me pondering why other countries such as Canada, Norway and Russia can handle and operate just fine in conditions like this all year round, when in Scotland we can’t get to work if there is a bit of ice on the road.

We, the public, may have become part of the problem however. When the bad weather hit last year my first thought was “It’s going to take me ages getting into college today.” When it happened this year my first thought was “There is a chance for a day off here.” Can you really blame me though? Why should people risk going into work or college when we know that if the bad weather does hit us hard then the chances of getting home are very slim.

What can we do then to make sure we are not victims of the next big freeze or rudely named hurricane that only us scots could think of? Wear an extra woolly, woolly hat and if you are a person of faith, pray that the avoidable affects can be handled in a competent manner by the powers at be.

By David Marshall

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Posted in: Opinion Pieces