Winter in the UK

As a Brit, a Geographer, and someone has lived many places and traveled to many more; I am fascinated and puzzled by the British attitude to the weather.

I could fill dozens if not hundreds of pages about various UK responses to too much rain (any time), some snow or ice in the winter, some heat or sun in the summer, or some falling leaves in the autumn / fall.  Right now the news is that after a few mild winters, a normal winter weather pattern leaves the country in ruins.

Let’s recap – the United Kingdom is a NORTHERN European country.  London lies at 51ºN, Manchester at 53º30′, Edinburgh at 55ºN.  Compare these to Calgary (51ºN), Edmonton (53º30’N) and Moscow (55º45’N).  Equivalents for my friends in the Southern hemisphere are tougher, but Ushuaia in Argentina (when I was there last summer/winter, people were skiing at close to sea level and it snowed every day) is at 54º48′ S, closest thing for my Kiwi friends is Invercargill at 46º24’S.  Question – do you think people in that latter (non-UK) list put snow tyres on in winter?  Do their city and county councils have snow ploughs and gritters?

Yes, I understand the difference between a Maritime and Continental climate, and the influence of the Gulf Stream on UK weather, but I also know about the jet stream and persistent Northern Hemisphere highs in the winter and the fact that a country this far north is going to get hit by winter storms a few times each year.  Anthropogenic climate change is likely to increase the frequency of extreme events as temperature gradients N to S get out of equilibrium due to localized responses to increased CO2 and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.  I’m pretty sure that I’m also not the only person who has studied this and knows these facts.

So, why?

Travel networks paralyzed

Gatwick Airport closed for second day

6500 schools closed

And, yes, the usual suspects will be out saying that snow in winter disproves “global warming” when it does no such thing and all serious scientists have known for 25+ years that effects of anthropogenic climate change will be unevenly distributed.  The Lake District / southern Scotland is at the same latitude as James Bay in central Canada or Ketchikan in southern Alaska.  Will you buy some snow tyres, some winter boots, and a warm coat, please?

About Raoul

With a fairly unusual first name, this is where I have to stress VERY STRONGLY that these posts are my personal opinions and in no way reflect anything at all to do with my employer. For employer-approved content, take a look at my work blog.
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