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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 11:18 GMT
UK snow storms: Your experiences
Drivers across Northern Ireland and Scotland are being warned to take extra care after heavy snowfalls have made road conditions extremely hazardous.

Icy conditions have caused a spate of accidents and serious tailbacks across the regions.

The Met Office has warned that driving conditions are especially dangerous on high ground.

Main roads are open, but police have advised drivers that many are only passable with care.

The warnings come just days after snow and freezing temperatures brought much of the UK to a virtual halt, as thousands of motorists were stranded overnight on some of Britain's busiest motorways.

Have you been hit by the severe weather conditions? Tell us your experiences.

If you have any snow pictures, you can send them as an attachment to

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

There are bigger problems with the drivers

Paul, Scotland
We have a little snow and everything falls flat on its face. Yes there are problems with gritters, there are bigger problems with the drivers though. I've been driving for 8 years with very little experience of snow/ice driving, I've also got a powerful sports car. How come I didn't end up with bother? Well I drove very slowly, kept my distance and was light on the pedals. Yes, it really is that easy!
Paul, Scotland

It is invidious to draw comparisons with countries which can depend on getting months of severe weather, like Canada, Siberia and Sweden, and countries like ours which at most gets a few days of snow at any time between December and March. I would suggest if we put the resources in to being as prepared for bad weather as the Russians then we would be wasting those resources which could be put to better use elsewhere. Quite probably the cost of those resources would be far greater than the cost of a few days "snow chaos".
Steve, Scotland

I live in the middle of Holland and last Saturday it snowed from 12 noon until 11 o'clock in the evening - so about 20 cm. of snow at least. The whole family loved it and in the evening we took the dog out for a walk and our children and me and my husband were so excited and we had a lot of fun too with throwing snowballs to one another. It does not happen often that we have snow here and I am really jealous of the Scottish who have had such a lot of snow. Actually, I am very interested how a farmer over there copes with that kind of weather. I loved reading all the stories about the snow and luckily here the gritters are already on the roads and on the cycle-paths before the snow begins. All the best,
Mrs. Els Nieuwkerk, The Netherlands.

It reminds us of who's boss in this world

Colin Roberts, Inverness
How can 3 inches of snow bring cities to a standstill? Living in the highlands means that we have snow most years and travel in it regularly. It does appear that since the council contracts for the roads went out to private tender that gritting services have been cut dramatically once again rip-off Britain. Personally I like the snow and bad weather - it reminds us of who's boss in this world (mother nature) not Mr Bush and Blair! Let it snow!!!!
Colin Roberts, Inverness, Scotland

I take back all my smug northerner thoughts about soft southerners from last week, having last night trudged the last 4 miles of my journey home from the city centre on sheet ice (buses, like gritters, having miraculously disappeared preferring to leave commuters stranded), passing abandoned cars and long lines of stationery traffic - all we had was a coverlet of snow (nothing excessive at all for January) but underpinned by sheet ice. At least I can be warmed by the thought that all my hard-earned taxes are not being spread over practical things like icy roads but swallowed down the bottomless pit of public service reform, meaningless council jobs (yes, you, Bury Met!). Roll on voting day and bring on the ballot box!
Debbie, Manchester

Whilst obviously there have been gritter problems both down south and up here, part of the problem is that many drivers expect that they can do a journey is hazardous conditions in the same time as they would in normal weather - that's just daft! Inexperience may contribute, but anyone who goes out with dangerous driving conditions forecast and isn't prepared and alters their driving to accommodate it is a head case!
Anne, Scotland

Sorry Ken no amount of money will make me take public transport after this

Darren, London
The worst part of the snow was that all the trains came to a dead stop. That meant that everyone who was not in a car was stranded out in the heavy snow, iced up paths and very cold wind. With over full buses unable to pick up anyone and a 5 hour waiting list for Cabs, people were stranded. My wife was one of these people but I had no problem apart from traffic getting to my wife and cannot wait until someone tries to wind me up about having a 4X4 in London. I must say that I had great fun and have never felt safer. Yes my next car will be a 4X4 again, sorry Ken no amount of money will make me take public transport after this.
Darren, London

We live in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Heavy snow fall, deep drifts, the works. How do we cope? Sleeping bag, snow boots, show shovel, food and water in the car. The local road crews watch the weather forecasts and prepare ahead of time by positioning gritters/snow ploughs before the snow falls, and then working night and day. Pre-planning and extra resource is the key.
Bob, USA

Having spent 3 hours in my three-wheeler doing the 5 mile journey from work to home, last Thursday night, I was left wondering why public toilets are so rare in North West London. It was an uncomfortable experience.
Ben Rickman, UK

I live in a tiny village in the middle of hills in Stirlingshire. Common sense has prevailed in our household since the snow started on Friday. I have a new Mini (sporty wheels and wide tyres - not great in the snow) so we've been using my hubby's 4x4 since Friday. Don't go out if you think you won't make it! Work will still be there when the snow's gone.
For the people who complained about 4x4's overtaking them as they struggled - we took twice as long to get home yesterday, because we were helping stranded motorists and pulling them out of ditches they'd slipped into. Not everyone with a 4x4 should be tarred with the same brush!
Vaila, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Why isn't there more attention paid to conditions for pedestrians

Steve Eminton, UK
Yes we need roads gritted but why isn't there more attention paid to conditions for pedestrians? 24 hours on from the blizzard in west London treacherous pavements around tube stations were not gritted. In fact there didn't seem to be any street gritting for several days, if at all in Hillingdon.
Steve Eminton, UK

I do believe the government must shoulder some of the blame of the weather problems, here in Germany the gritters were out as the first snow started to fall. The main difference here is they not only grit the roads, but all the paths too even ones that go through fields! Also every person is responsible for clearing the area of pavement outside their house.
Steven Prudames, Germany (Ex UK)

I lived in Northern Norway for ten years. Learning to drive in extreme winter conditions takes times and concentration. How the British can blame the lack of gritters, the BBC weather report, police or whatever mystifies me. The British just complain and blame. Let's admit it; virtually no one in the UK has the ability to drive on snow or ice. Remember Eddie the eagle?
Philip Butwell, Norway

What snow! Not in West Cornwall. The children have been running round the garden in shorts this weekend destroying the daffodils.
Jackie, UK

The country was not "brought to its knees". I believe I speak for most people who live outside the M25.
Martyn, England

I still wonder why the UK cannot deal with snow. I am British and living in Ekaterinburg in Siberia. This weekend we had over one foot of snow in one day, but life still goes on as normal. Sure there are car crashes but they a few and far between. I think a bit more planning in the UK would help solve situations that you have seen last week.
Richard Presbury, Ekaterinburg, Siberia, Russia

As Billy Connolly once said, there is no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes - or tyres depending on your method of travel!
Helen, Wales, UK

I left Cumbria two years ago and remember the panic over a few inches of snow-but we did not have the support of gritters etc due to lack of experience. Back in Ontario with terrible conditions, which are the norm, we listen to the warnings and plug in the block-heater and drive to the conditions - a part of Canadian life! Seriously, Canadian snow has a different texture - it's more slippery in U.K. We are not wimps in England - it is simply a different story. NB: make sure your tyres are up to standard and drive sensibly -that is the key!
Michele Lintern-Mole, Canada

Take a moment to look at the wonder of Mother Nature

Sandie Taylor, England
Stop moaning about the weather and just take a moment to look at the wonder of Mother Nature. Wrap up warm, take you time or stay at home but don't forget to feed the birds.
Sandie Taylor, England

On Sunday I had to drive from Coupar Angus to Edinburgh airport twice. We had blizzard conditions and saw at least five accidents, each with attendant police cars, BUT NO GRITTERS, on either road. Returning north only one lane of the motorway had been gritted, and that inadequately. The BBC weather forecast for the day? "Wintry showers" !!! Not helpful at all.

The only way to keep key motorways clear is to use gritters, two at a time (not one as now which simply shifts the second lane snow and slush into the first lane), spacing each pair of gritters about a mile or so apart, and to have them on the road BEFORE the snow comes. If this sounds too expensive, close the roads - it would take less police effort.
Bob Albot, Scotland

The best advice I ever heard for driving in icy or snowy conditions came from Bill Hartley (on BBC radio many years ago). He said "Drive as if your pedals were made of glass". I've always followed this, and never had an accident due to road conditions.
Peter Hyde, Canada

What a shame that only a handful of people have mentioned the fun side of the snow. I'm British but living in Brazil, and although I love the weather here, I would give a lot to be back home for a day to go sledging and build snowmen with my family. Enjoy it while it's there!
Rosie, Brazil

If you aren't prepared you are foolish

Jean, Scotland
Here in Ross-shire (northern Scotland) we have about a foot of snow and it is still falling. Schools are closed and Moray Firth radio gives an excellent information service about schools, road and electricity supplies. Obviously when the road is dangerous you have to make plans that are realistic and safe - life cannot go on as if it was June! Snow is a feature of every winter and if you aren't prepared you are foolish.
Jean, Scotland

I love it when we have snow because I can take my 4x4 sports car to the local supermarket car parks and do donuts, hand brake turns, massive power slides, without wearing my expensive tyres out or smashing my expensive wheels. I drive very carefully though!
Thomas Ganderton, England

I cannot help but contrast these stories and scenes with reports on TV showing bus drivers practising putting chains on their buses, and gritters out on the streets -- in Rome and Palermo, respectively. These are not cities that often have problems with snow, but at least they appear to be prepared!
Chris Jenkins, Italy

Yep... I was in the M11 southbound blockage around J10 from 00:30 to about 7:30. Matters were certainly made worse by people using the hard shoulder as an extra lane. During the night it took ages for the police to get two vital gritters/snow ploughs out of the blockade and then there was the ambulance that couldn't get through... Massive fines, confiscation of all vehicles and a long stint somewhere nasty for these selfish individuals.
Dan, Cambs, UK

I'm a bit fed up with everyone trying to blame someone else. Yes the gritters should have been out, although from what I saw on Thursday night, I think the majority of problems were caused by stupid people who do not know how to drive in snow. I came back from London to Lincolnshire that night, and I lost count of the people who went flying down the outside of a queue of traffic who were travelling at a safe speed. I also lost count of the number of cars in ditches and smashed up by the road side, but then again, it couldn't possible have been their fault they crashed, could it?
Chris Chitty,UK

If you hardly ever see snow, you're bound to be inexperienced

Anna, Orkney, UK
It's no good just blaming "inexperienced" drivers. If you hardly ever see snow, you're bound to be inexperienced, and it's not very helpful to be told not to drive if you're trying to get home, there's no public transport running and you'll get clamped if you abandon your car.

Very often it's the car's fault anyway - I have a Volvo which slides all over the place and a 1965 Imp which never loses its footing. Here in Orkney we get snow often enough to get used to it, but I've still seen the postie in the ditch so however experienced you are, it can happen. At least you know there's bound to be a tractor along in a minute!
Anna, Orkney, UK

Us Torontonians are considered wimps as far as the rest of Canada is concerned when it comes to handling snow. However it has been -20C everyday for almost two weeks, with today actually a warm --1C. My advice is for you all to buy snow tires and learn how to drive in snow conditions. Keep some food, warm cloths & shovel in the car. Oh yeah, thanks for making Toronto look good.
Richard Atkinson, Canada

I left work in Golders Green at 4pm and arrived home at 11.30 pm. It took me 3.5 hrs to get from Brent Cross to Hendon Police Training Centre. During my 7.5 hrs journey home I did not see one gritter out on the roads, bearing in mind the council new about the snow at least a week before.
Grant Murray, England

This is the reason I came to live in California!
Bernard, Santa Barbara, USA

Lass who works with me, her other half has just crashed his car after skidding on ice and cracked an alloy wheel on the curb. He has got loads of points on his licence, so my bet is, he was driving too fast.
Jim, N.E. Derbyshire, UK

It seems to me that England has a little snow and they don't know how to handle it. The problem is that the government is not prepared for bad weather. To bring a country to almost a halt is ridiculous, after all two inches of snow is nothing if one is prepared for it, it's a drop in the bucket here.
Mary, Canada

Once again the headlines are why is it that the British can't cope? That is, as usual, Britons doing themselves down unjustly. In Sweden which is pretty cold (minus 39C in the north to minus 10 in the south) we can't cope either. Last week there was a bus crash on, as normal for this time of year, an icy road and six passengers where killed.

Autumn 2002, when the snow arrived one week earlier than the Swedish bureaucrats said the motorist should change to winter tyres there was chaos. Last winter over half the trains, which were new, could not run because, as in good old British Rail days, it was the wrong sort of snow.
Geoff Jensen, Sweden

I've lived in Brianšon (Alpes) for some 15 years. The first year I was advised to fit snow tyres (NOT studs) at the beginning of November. My wife is a community nurse who leaves home at 7am with a light shovel in the boot, a flask and sandwiches plus a blanket in the car. Neither of us has been caught out. When will the Brits, wake up and prepare for what can happen rather than blame the authorities? Incidentally, the Parisians are no better!
John Brailsford, France

I got back on Friday from a week's business in the USA, only to find half the country closed because of a couple of inches of snow! Still, we're not alone. Those parts of the USA where snow rarely falls have also been severely impacted by recent severe weather, whilst those parts of the country used to heavy snow have carried on as normal. Without wishing to sound silly, the problem is that we really do get "the wrong kind of snow". If it snows at temperatures near zero, it readily turns to ice, and is much harder to clear than the powder that falls when temperatures are lower.
John, England

Last night in Dunblane we had about 15 cm of fresh snow on top of snow from Friday and Saturday. We simply dug the cars out and went to work. I got to work about 20 minutes late after a careful drive on snow covered roads. There were no dramas and no accidents. It's winter and it snows in winter, all you need to do is adjust your diving and your schedule to suit the conditions.
Roger, Scotland

At last we've had some snow - but now the sun comes out and is melting it. We were so looking forward to building a snowman!
Alison, UK

A little snow and people panic

Jacqueline, Scotland
People who have no idea how to drive in winter conditions become a danger to others who are experienced drivers. They should either get a lift or find other methods of transport or as the police state, stay at home. A little snow and people panic, they should be in Scotland where we have several feet of snow and not just three inches.
Jacqueline, Scotland

Jacqueline in Scotland would have us believe that snow in Scotland has no impact on travel within Scotland. This is utter rubbish. There are numerous road closures, train cancellations and flight delays each year due to snow falls which other European countries would not even register.
Sean, England

Sean, England - If you read Jacqueline's comment more carefully, you'll see that all she actually said was that Scotland has several feet of snow, whereas England has 3 inches. She didn't say or imply that snow has no impact on travel in Scotland.
Paul, UK

I hate the never ending noise, dirt and pollution of road traffic. About the only time this ceases is with a rare heavy blanket of snow. So I say put those gritters away and let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Robin Ballantine, UK

In Cupar, Fife, we've had no more than a slight flurry which melted within half an hour on Sunday.
Ken, Scotland

John Gilliam
"It has taken me 16 hours to get home"
Aruna Thilake
The M11 on the way back from Stansted
See also:

30 Jan 03 | UK
29 Jan 03 | UK
15 Jan 03 | Scotland
09 Jan 03 | UK
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