Cold weather disasters

The last week has not been a pleasant one because of the cold weather.  And I don’t mean personal discomfort from cold or snow – not directly anyway.  I guess I’m one of those people who dons chunky boots and sweaters and just gets on with life.  I don’t even mind driving in the stuff, with the one caveat –  that I am more nervous of what other drivers will do, and rightly so.

Last Sunday, after snow on damp roads and a subsequent freeze, we woke up to roads with a glass-like coating of ice.   Main roads were fine – they were gritted.  Coming home late afternoon we turned into a side road where the ice was still intact and that’s where it happened, just approaching a T-junction.  Another car (driving far too fast on what was effectively sheet ice) braked, only partially made the turn and hit the driver’s side wheel (I wasn’t driving).  Luckily no-one was hurt but our wheel was left at a 40º angle from vertical so that we had difficulty even pushing the car to the side of the road where we had to leave it.  We were less than a mile from home and chose to walk.  Actually it was a lovely walk though the suburbs on crunchy snow and looking up at snow-covered hills, or would have been if it was for another reason.

We are waiting to hear if the car will be written off (bent axle?) or is repairable, but garages, repair people and insurance companies are busy – ten times the usual rate of accidents I believe in this cold and snowy weather.

After two weeks of cold and ice and snow, the thaw set in on Thursday and was very rapid.  Coming out into a green world again after work was weird; quite different from the frozen one I had left to go into my building in the morning.  The pavement (sidewalk) where I had slipped and fallen the day before (despite chunky boots with sensible soles) felt strangely hard under my feet, and all the roads were left covered with irt (ex-snirt as in snow+dirt).

On Friday morning I turned on the shower and… nothing.  Low water pressure. I knew exactly what that meant, and sure enough there was a river of water running out of the garage.  Despite good lagging where a pipe runs through the garage to the washing machine in the utility room, I guess it is a vulnerable spot. We’d been complacent because of the boiler in the utility room and we assumed enough heat leaking into the garage.  We didn’t even know the pipe had frozen. What a gusher! It was like a fountain.

Now the worst part of it is that in the last three weeks a lot of our possessions had gone into the garage as chez Jones is getting a long overdue internal coat of paint.  So the garage had boxes and bags of all those excess bits and bobs that families tend to accumulate, although no large pieces of furniture thankfully.  We’ve rescued what we can, but mould has set in already, and we have ordered a skip.  When you see items sitting in a soggy pile it does rather focus the mind on what is really of value.  Unfortunately many of the most irreplaceable things, like photo albums, are ruined and that is that.  Still, I look at the two children making chocolate muffins in the kitchen then I think back to Sunday’s minor accident and count my blessings.

Forecast model shown for 2m above ground temperatures for 16 Dec. Source:

I see the cold weather is set to return – somehow I think even more preparation is in order this time, and I think we’d better get used to it.


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6 Responses to Cold weather disasters

  1. j ferguson says:

    Hi Verity,
    I lived and worked in Chicago for many years. It snows there every year. The morning commute downtown from the suburbs after the fist serious snow of the year always caught some of the commuters by surprise The slick conditions revealed their driving skills either insufficient or unrecalled. There would be many wrecks the first day, fewer the second, and then infrequent after that.

    This pattern would repeat itself with the first serious snow every year.

    We could never determine if the people who had failed the test gave it up, or caught on.

  2. tonyb says:

    Hi Verity, sorry to hear of your travails.

    Two winters ago- thanks to WUWT- I started a major programme to upgrade the insulation of our House in the supposedly mild South West. I physically tucked insulation into the rafters of our underhouse, lagged pipes, put on thermostats to each radiator, covered wood floors with carpets, introduced thermal linings to curtains and replaced internal doors with thermal ones so each room can be better heated individually etc.

    However, because of the policies of our mad Government (the second in a row) I can’t afford to heat the house as much as I would like, so had to decamp from my usual computer where I have all my records (48F during the day) to my study which is smaller and easier to heat.

    Now, if I could se this coming-our third cold winter (to date) in a row- why couldn’t the Authorities? The simple answer-which also explains why roads aren’t gritted, is that they are all looking in the wrong direction because their computers only talk of warming not cooling.

    Our Govt is unprepared for the massive extra costs its citizens will have to face in order not to freeze to death, and have no plan to deal with the disruption caused by snow (the Scottish transport minister had to resign a few days ago for this very reason).

    In the meantime-as happens with every cold spell-our silly windmills stop working as the cold is invariably caused by a high pressure sitting over the British Isles which brings with it a complete lack of wind. These things are supposed to provide a substantial part of our power in the future.

    I suspect the madness won’t stop until Parliament disappears under a glacier but in the meantime much of the UK population is bankrupting itself to keep warm, always assuming it can get to work along untreated roads.


  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Don’t toss the pictures! Let them dry!!

    Photos are made in wet soup and can be wet / dry without a problem. You do need to dry soon, so as not to mould, and then I’d suggest a quick digital camera copy of the most valuable.

    At worst (fuzzy with light mould, surface getting mottled texture) you can dry them (to kill the mold – or soak in mild alkine or acid to kill mold; photos are soaked in both during the processing…) and later ‘re-soak’ them, then lay them on a glass smooth surface (face down) to reform the glossy finish. Photo hobiest places sold metal plates for this purpose in the past (and may still).

    But DO NOT GIVE UP just because a photo was / is wet!

  4. KevinUK says:


    I’m very sorry to hear about your misfortunes. I’ve had some recently (failed laptop graphics chipset – so an uneconimc repair) but thankfully nothing like yours. I’m sure all will b back to normal for you soon hopefully.

    Tony B

    “In the meantime-as happens with every cold spell-our silly windmills stop working as the cold is invariably caused by a high pressure sitting over the British Isles which brings with it a complete lack of wind. These things are supposed to provide a substantial part of our power in the future.”

    Most days I get to drive past the wind turbines that are located along the north Liverpool docks and owned and operated by Peel Holdings. I can persoanlly testify as you have also done Tony, that these useless things have remained stationary through the recent cold period. In other words they have generated zilch power during the very time at which their power is most needed. Coincidentally I’ve also received my gas and electricity bills (from EDF) and have cringed at the prospect of these already extortion bills becoming even higher due to ludicrous commitment to ‘combatting climate change’. Like you Tony I also think that the UK government has got it competely ‘ar** about face’ in that it’s fixated on future warming (due to bad advice from the likes of the UK Met Office) and so isn’t investing in the necessary infrastructure changes and planning and adapation required in order to cope with future long term cooling.

  5. TonyB says:


    The worst part is that surely members of the Govt have driven past these things and have made the association between bone numbingly cold still periods, and the fact that in such conditions the windmills don’t work?

    No matter how many more of these devices you put up, if there is no wind they won’t work.

    Also do any of them bother to look at the Hadley CET figures-sharply declining for 5 years-or look at the mayhem caused by snow and ice, and have just the tiniest doubt that they have been taken for a long expensive ride, whose ultimate destination is hardship and poverty for their voters?


  6. TonyB says:

    Anyone here any good at Photoshopping and could create a Christmas card by taking this image, adding in the last two years of decline, superimposing it over a photo of snow chaos and then include some suitable words?

    I would undertake to print it out and send one to my MP, one to the recently resigned Scottish transport minister and to personally drop one through the Letter Box of the Met office addressed to Julia Slingo

    PS If the snow chaos could somehow contrive to include a stationary windmill, all the better!!


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