Wintry disruptions…again

Winter has come early to Europe this year. Very early. While it is not unusual to have a prolonged cold spell in January or February in this neck of the woods, as we did last year, having it in November is rather uncommon. Snow has covered much of Europe that hasn’t seen snow in winter for years,with widespread ramifications for all sorts of transport. Traffic all over Europe as been hit hard, and many rail services in the UK rail have simply been cancelled, the BBC reports. This has truly been the coldest November on record, at least in Norway. Whatever happened to global warming? Are cold winters the new and coming supply chain risk?

Gatwick and Edinburgh airports closed

According to the BBC, disruptions caused by snow and ice have taken a heavy toll on services we take for granted:

Some 4,000 schools have been closed, and Edinburgh and Gatwick airports will be shut until at least Thursday.

Some local authorities have told parents that schools will remain closed for the rest of the week. In total, more than 1,500 of 2,722 schools were shut.

More cold weather and snow is expected. Let’s hope they don’t run out of salt and grit like they did last year. Stranded air passengers and commuters are a common occurrence from time to time in winter, stranded freight is perhaps not so much thought about by the public. However, stranded freight is as important as stranded passengers, as the volcanic ash cloud showed us this Spring.

Germany, too

Germany wasn’t spared either, and almost the entire country is covered in a 15 cm (6 inches) thick blanket of snow, according to Der Spiegel, with the Bavaria and Saxony being the hardest hit parts of Germany.

Colder than normal

This November has been a lot colder than normal. Normal as defined by the World Meteorological Association are the weather observations from 1961 to 1990, which by any accounts have been a lot colder than in recent years, so a 5 degree colder than normal temperature as in my home town, see stats below, is thus really cold.

If this cold weather continues  through the coming months, we will definitely see more disruptions.

A surprise?

But…should a cold winter comes as a surprise? Have we all forgotten how winters used to be? Indeed, the Telegraph asks the timely question, Why did Britain slide into snow chaos again?, while the Guardian reports that snow chaos is grinding the UK to a halt, yet again, costing the economy perhaps as much as £6bn.

Links

Jan Husdal is an engineer turned researcher turned engineer again and he is now a Resilience Adviser with the Southern Region office of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens vegvesen Region sør) in Arendal, Norway,

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  • http://www.blog.vrg.net.au Ken Simpson

    Always amazed that these are unexpected outages – or is it another case of the contingency plans being written for auditors rather than use in an incident?

    Tim Armit makes a good point about this in an article over at Continuity Central also.

    • Jan Husdal

      Thanks for your comment, Ken. You may have a point there.

      Or is it just that the public is expecting too much in terms of government preparedness regardless of circumstances? Or is it that the public does not take any precautions themselves, e.g. not fitting your car with snow tyres but expecting the road operators to salt and grit and keep the roads clear from ice and snow at all times? Are we not able to slow down a notch or two in bad weather instead of forcefully attempting a business as usual approach?

      I didn't find Peter Armit at Continuity Central, but I found Peter Power: Lessons Learned or Lessons Lost?

  • Pingback: … the unexpected knowns :: Contemplating …()

  • http://www.blog.vrg.net.au Ken Simpson

    Sorry for the incorrect citation Jan.

    The Armit comment was at the Yahoo Groups "discussbusinesscontinuity"

    The Peter Power article you mention is certainly around a similar theme.

    • Jan Husdal

      Thanks, Ken. I was kind of puzzled by your reference to continuitycentral.com, since I dind't find anything there. And thanks for alerting me to that Yahoo group, which I didn't know existed.

  • Char

    The cold is causing real problems in Northern England, the roads are still very slippery and many children have been injured walking on the icy paths at our local school.

    • Jan Husdal

      Hi Char and thank you for your comment. Hopefully the weather will turn to the better soon.

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