What happened?

Well bang on the peak time of rush hour on monday morning the snow came. It was big fluffy flakes to start with and quickly turned into a blizzard, then the traffic stopped. As I was sat there I could see the snow building up on the hard shoulder! All within about 5 minutes. The reason it built up so quickly was because there was still snow frozen solid on the ground from previous snowfalls. Once the traffic stopped, no gritters or snow ploughs could get through to clear the way, this meant that some people had to spend over 18 hours stranded in their cars! I was lucky I managed to get a hotel room to spend the night in because the police said the roads were to bad to attempt my 38mile drive home. Temperatures at this point were all ready well below freezing and had been for days.

Why are roads still shut?

Well, the techniques the councils are using to clear the ice and snow just don’t work when the temperature is as low as this. -15 Celsius is the norm at the moment in Glasgow and central Scotland, even at the coast the temperature drops to -9 Celsius easily! The traditional methods of using a salt/grit mixture to try and melt the snow and ice and provide some kind of traction doesnt really work as well below about -8C. The Salt simply has no affect. I managed to drive home yesterday (36hrs after I left home!) But there are large stretches of motorway that have solid compacted ice in the lanes and you have no option but to drive over them. They are bumpy and in a wee light car the ice tends to push you about! But the trick is to remain calm, dont accelerate, don’t brake and no sudden movements of the wheel. This should help avoid any skids.

What are councils other options?

Well to answer this you need to look at countries where -15C is regarded as something normal. There they don’t bother with grit. In Nordic countries it is law to change to winter tyres before the onset of the really bad stuff. These tyres have extra dimples on them to help grip in ice, and of course I’m pretty sure they are illegal here, in case they damage the road?! Snow Chains would have helped a lot of lorries climb the hills on the motorways and roads leading to less congestion. We do have snow ploughs here, but we don’t have hot sand gritters. These are like normal gritting lorries, but they heat the sand up so that it melts into the top of the ice giving it a surface like sand paper. Plenty of grip to be had there! If you have grip you can drive on ice no matter how cold, or how thick it is. Another thing that may help is to make people aware that if they stop in snow they shouldn’t try to wheel spin out, there’s just no traction at all, instead, try setting off slowly in 2nd or even 3rd gear if you can this helps the car to pull away after becoming stationary on snow and ice.

In Summary

Its too cold for traditional snow / ice clearing methods in UK, and the authorities need to adapt

Perhaps look to Nordic countries to see how to use the equipment properly.

People need to learn how to adapt to the conditions and BE PREPARED!

Originally posted 2010-12-09 23:18:37.