Snow in Scotland at this time of year isn’t exactly a shock, is it? It happens pretty much every year. But why does bad weather always seem to bring the country to a halt?
It’s not as if we have the kind of winters that some countries further north do. Perhaps they are simply better prepared than us for snow, or are more used to it? I remember working with a Canadian woman a few years ago who just could not understand how a few centimetres of snow could bring an entire country to a halt.
Around 850 schools were closed yesterday, from the Shetland Isles to the Borders. Roads were closed in the North East and the Highlands. Cars were left abandoned as motorists gave up and walked. Air and train travel was disrupted. And for 3,000 homes in Tayside things got even worse when they lost power.
There was some help available though. A Scottish government spokesperson told us that, “Prisoners from Castle Huntly, Noranside, Shotts and Greenock Prisons are currently being used to clear snow.”
And the government also reminded local authorities that offenders on community service could also be used to help with winter emergency work. Is that what the Big Society means?
We were also told that a cargo of more than 26,000 tonnes of salt from Peru had arrived at the port of Leith. We now have to import salt? Don’t we have any of our own – you know, living on an island that’s surrounded by salt water?
My favourite headline of the day was: “Leak brings down Highland Council’s website”
I wondered exactly what gem of information had been released to cause such trouble. But it turns out it was a leaky pipe that caused a total failure of the Council’s web services. Many people looking for information on school closures or other local services were reportedly stuck, unable to access the information they needed. I’m sure a few did think to pick up the telephone and actually call them though.
And there is more bad news. It’s going to get worse. Forecasters have warned that the temperatures could fall as low as -18C.
How will we cope? Badly, I expect.