Saturday, 4 December 2010

A most welcome thaw but the snow will surely be back

Even though it was forecast, I was so pleased to find on getting up this morning that nearly all the snow and ice has gone. In my entire life I've never known such early Winter snow in such quantities, and with corresponding biting cold, day as well as night. But we are the lucky ones here in England's extreme south; the rest of the country, and Scotland especially, continues to suffer dreadfully. My heart goes out particularly to those poor homeless people, not to mention all those animals, with nowhere warm to go to. The current respite in this area is due to last only a day or so before a return to the big freeze, at least temperature-wise, but thankfully no more snow forecast for at least the next few days. But the white stuff is bound to return before too long; it's far too early to hope realistically for anything else.
I do so dislike extreme Winter weather; all very nice and picturesque when viewed from the other side of glass, but having to go out in it is another matter. Actually the snow itself is not half as bad as ice. I've always been terrified of going arse-over-tit and breaking something, though have managed to avoid taking a fall most Winters.
Our current situation is due, we are told, to a huge 'kink' in the jet-stream which, instead of coming at us direct from the Caribbean area, is now looping right up over Greenland and bringing snow and bitter temps down from there. (I heard yesterday that most of this country is currently even colder than Greenland itself!) There's also talk that it's been caused by this year's erratic behaviour of 'El Nino' off South America's Pacific coast. Whether that's the case or not, all of north and mid-Europe is suffering badly in this extreme, sustained Arctic blast.
I find it intensely irritating to hear people saying that such weather as we are experiencing proves that global-warming is a myth. Even though it's not the case with our current situation, the melting of the Arctic ice is practically certain to divert the mild Atlantic Gulf Stream, which keeps western Europe temperate for its latitude, southwards to the African coast or push it underneath the ocean surface. (This is different from the jet-stream, the latter being air, the Gulf Stream, water, of course). The consequence of a diverted Gulf Stream will be that while the rest of the earth warms up we in western Europe will actually get colder. So, maybe we ought to view our current travails of early severe Winter as merely a prelude (I nearly said "warm-up" - Ha ha!) to what may well be coming. Yes, we live in 'interesting' times.


  1. Yesterday several of us were out on our little dead-end road clearing a foot of snow which had accumulated during the previous few days. Even so there was still an inch or two fell yesterday evening just to freshen things up!

    I have to say we really enjoyed working our socks off with the other guys to clear around the cars and get a useable road width so's people could drive out for the first time in about four days!

    It's beautiful here on the hills and the valley roads are clear. Yes, sure, we must all keep an eye on the ice and it's not fun to be sent crashing to the ground - but you just have to try to land in a load of snow to break your fall!

    Today we managed the weekly trip to the supermarket but I will admit that we won't be driving down the hill from here again in the near future if we can help it! It's fine though.

  2. Goodness me, Micky! I wish I shared your positive stance on the conditions. (Yes, really!) Snow is at its best when it's virgin, but it soon becomes dirty and dangerous, and it's the anticipation of this inevitable state that gets my mood down. The dreadful Winter of 1962/63 was my final year at school and I fear that if things go on the way they are 2010/11 may yet beat it.
    Take care for the rest of this chilly period, my friend - and, yes, continue to enjoy it! I only wish I could too.

  3. What a huge topic Ray. Let me comment by saying the first time I looked at a global map and made the realization that Europe was at a similar latitude as Canada, but had a similar climate as the U.S., I was baffled. How could this be? Then I learned about the North Atlantic Conveyor, the sub-surface ocean current bringing warm water from the Caribbean Sea, keeping northern Europe mild. Now it makes sense.

    Yes, the rapid melting of the glaciers of the Arctic and Greenland is reducing the salinity of the North Atlantic Conveyor and making it unstable. It's on the verge of collapse and no one can predict the consequences. Will northern Europe experience an ice age while the rest of the world swelters for centuries? It may happen.

    It's easy for the idiots of this world to deny global climate change. They know they will be long dead before they can be proven wrong.

  4. Cubby, there's even a lot of Brits who just don't get it why our climate here in northern(ish) Europe is so mild compared with similar latitudes in both North America and Asia. They could well be in for a nasty shock, possibly sooner rather than later.
    Btw I have (at least) two underlying fears on the subject of the earth. One is the diversion of the warm Atlantic Gulf Stream mentioned above and which you appreciate. The other is not often talked about but is just as frightening - a switching of the earth's magnetic poles, which happens every several thousand years and is now very long overdue. I hear different opinions of the likely effect, ranging from that it won't make any difference to mankind, all the way to that we (or all those alive at the time) will all get fried as the sun's noxious rays get through while the magnetic shield drops its guard. The signs that it's already starting to happen has been increasingly evident for some decades now - the actual switch over will probably take 2 or 3 centuries to complete. Ooh scary!
    Then there's the matter of a stray asteroid or meteor......
    Going back to the climate-change deniers, it's despair-worthy how that crassly-worded e-mail from our own East Anglia University was such a gift to the nay-sayers. Even now they are still crowing about it and will continue to derive mileage for years to come. A real tragedy that could so easily have been avoided with more care.