Page last updated at 19:17 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

Extreme weather around the world

New Year Ice Sculpture
Siberian authorities are well practised at dealing with extreme conditions.
Heavy snow across the UK led to transport delays causing huge problems for Brits on Monday.

News website readers from around the world have been describing the weather where they are, and comparing conditions with the UK.



NIALL O'DONOGHUE, TELECOMMUNICATIONS, FINLAND

Niall's house in Finland
Niall's house in Finland
Because of Finland's location, winter generally lasts five months from November until the end of April. More often than not there is snow throughout the whole period, and the temperatures drop so low that the ground freezes.

People here are used to living like this, so they are well adapted. Finnish buildings are constructed to withstand heavy snow on the roof. Triple glazing is very common and attics are always well insulated to prevent heat escaping through the roof.

As for private transport, the law requires every car owner to change the vehicle's wheels twice a year. Winter tyres are quite different from summer tyres with metal studs which afford good grip on icy roads. If it snows very heavily, there is often disruption to trains and buses but never for longer than about half a day. Things don't come to a total standstill.

The recent snowy chaos in the UK is understandable given that the UK is unaccustomed to sudden heavy snowfalls. There is no point having a large number of snow ploughs (as we do in Finland) because it is more rare to have such cold weather.

DENISE CAMPBELL, OFFICE MANAGER, CANADA

Denise's house in Kingston, Ontario
Denise's house in Kingston, Ontario
I follow the BBC weather stories with some amusement. Half of Britain appears to have been brought to a halt by two to four inches of snow. This week alone a foot of new snow fell on one day to add to our already big mounds. No-one stopped going to work or school, we just got out our shovels out and carried on!

My daughter lives in Tonbridge and works in Dartford, Kent. Today she drove to work just as she would have done on any other day. To her amusement she was sent home at 1030 because of the snow.


I've been watching pictures of British weather on CBC and it really just looks like an ordinary day in Canada. I can't imagine the country coming to a halt because of snow. We just get up a bit earlier and are far better prepared. The Weather Channel becomes an essential part of winter life and our cars are equipped with snow tyres. The snow ploughs come out overnight to clear the roads. They don't tend to grit the roads unless it's particularly icy.

The last time I remember it being so cold that the buses had to stop running was when I was a university student in Montréal in 1970. I was stuck in the city for three days and had to stay with friends.

I don't understand why British public transport isn't geared up for this weather. It may not be frequent but the cost of one snow plough is far less than the cost of an airport or a major city grinding to a halt for the day. At least your snow will be gone in a day or so. We have at least two more months of the white stuff.

JON PERTWEE, IT SUPPORT, SWITZERLAND
Jon Pertwee in Switzerland
Jon Pertwee in Switzerland

I've been living in Sion in Switzerland for about five years so I'm used to the weather here. It's lovely at the moment - blue skies with about a foot and a half of snow. The seasons pass quickly here and spring and autumn are very short.

The view from my office window is of snow capped mountains. There's been snow on the ground since the beginning of December.

The Swiss definitely cope with extreme weather a lot better than the British do. The snow ploughs come out immediately - even for tiny back streets. Even the trains have snow ploughs in front of them. The guys who operate the ploughs have to work very hard but they get well paid for it.

In Switzerland I've never known the trains to run off-time. I used to live in London so I know what the trains are like there.

I don't understand why the UK authorities can't work out that the conditions are always going to be varied. Councils need to accept that they can't cope with it. They should ask for advice from other countries who are more successful at dealing with adverse weather.

RICHARD BAGSHAW, TEACHER, SIBERIA

Richard Bagshaw
I teach English as a foreign language in Novosibirsk, Siberia and I have been here since November 2007. This year it's been a mild winter. Today it was minus 19, last weekend it got really cold and went down to around minus 35.

In Siberia the authorities are well practised in dealing with such extreme conditions. It looks like the local councils in the UK were completely unprepared for this weather even after a week of warnings.

It has to be about minus 40 before the Siberian authorities shut the schools and even then the children just go and play outside in the snow.

The airport manages to stay open throughout most of the year. The runway is cleared by snow ploughs, planes are de-iced and the pilots must be well practised at landing in freezing conditions.

My apartment is a newer one and is very well insulated. The walls are almost a metre thick, the gap between the double glazing is very wide - about 4cm - which traps more air and the heating is on 24 hours a day maintaining a constant 26 C.

You can still have a social life and go out despite the weather. If I go for a drink the bars are very warm but you've got to travel there quickly and minimise time spent outside. No one hangs around in the street - it just too cold for that!


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