We in the UK, love to talk about the weather, especially when it snows and brings the whole country to a complete shut down. Or so you would believe, if you watched the rolling news, with the annual calls for inquires and better preparation for next time.
This year the snow arrived early, it’s not officially winter yet, winter solstice is 21 December 2010. On that day the sun is at one of the two points in its path around the sky where it is as far from the celestial equator it ever can be. It normally snows in this country February and March.
Another annual popular question is - Why when it snows does the Scandinavian countries seem to cope so well?
Well, they are further away from the equator than most of the UK for a start, with the exception of parts of Scotland, and therefore get shorter days in winter. They also do not benefit the same as we do from the Gulf Stream, which warms the UK in winter. This means for them more snow, more often making the additional expenditure to cope justified. Then there are the strict driving laws during winter.
In Norway “there must be a minimum of 1.6 millimetre tread on summer tyres and a minimum of 3 millimetres on winter tyres. Vehicles must not be used unless they have sufficient road grip for the road surface.
During the winter, you must drive with winter tyres with or without studs. All-year tyres can also be used. Use of studded tyres is allowed from 1 November - 15 April. In Nordland, Troms and Finnmark studded tyres are allowed during the period 15 October - 1 May. Studded tyres may also be used outside these periods if the weather and road surface conditions make it necessary.
If studded tyres are fitted to a car weighing under 3.5 tonnes, they must be fitted to all four wheels. Vehicles with a permitted total weight of 3.5 tonnes or more, must carry snow chains if ice or snow is expected on the road. These snow chains must fit the vehicle's wheels.”
But don’t forget that sometimes even they cannot cope, as happened in Oslo last winter:
“Complaints have poured in over lack of snow plowing"
February 5, 2010
"City officials in Oslo have been as dissatisfied with snow clearing this winter as local residents, and have issued fines amounting to several hundred thousand kroner to the three firms responsible for plowing streets and sidewalks.
“They just haven’t done a very good job,” Arne Sørlie of the city transport department told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Slippery streets last week prompted numerous vehicle collisions, while pedestrians were falling with alarming regularity.
The firms involved blame “two demanding snowfalls,” claiming they hadn’t finished clearing up the first dump before the second one hit. That was weeks ago, though, and many sidewalks still haven’t been cleared.
Consistently sub-freezing temperatures have meant they didn’t get any help from melting. One of the firms, Oslo Vei, admitted that “we can be better, like all others,” and promised to “check our routines” and “see what can be done differently.”