What’s this fuss about frozen rain?

Iván Merker 22 December 2017

I’m glad I was safely back home during the tremendous snowfall last week.

I’m from Hungary, a country not exactly Siberian in its weather, but the fuss and chaos ten days ago caused by what was, to my knowledge, two inches of snow was ridiculous.

First things first, as we probably all know, snow is technically frozen rain – and there is absolutely no reason to celebrate something that represents all the bad things about the English weather (rain) without the good things (that it is rarely cold).

Growing up, I also realised that snow is like many other white things: looks nice at first, but after a while it becomes disgusting. In particular, growing up in a big city taught me that what is first snow will soon (i.e. in a couple of hours) become slushy and muddy.

Of course, there is a certain romantic air to a snowy city, and Cambridge must look even more fairy tale-like in the snow, but all things considered – no thank you.

More seriously, what happened in England was both horrible and ridiculous. British people, however, seem to be okay with it. I have seen people not leaving their rooms for an end-of term pubbing because there was some snow – snow that wouldn’t even last. And honestly, not having the snow removed is like making important decisions on the word of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. (Oh wait!)

Hungary can fall short of removing road obstacles in time, but the public transport of Budapest wouldn’t stop for days because of, again, two inches of snow. In fact, we wouldn’t think of two inches as serious obstacle at all – try two feet.

The key is that we, in famously futuristic Eastern Europe, use wonderful machines and chemicals to tackle this awful problem. These truly are the Shinkansens of snow removal.

This is because removing snow is important. A friend had his flight cancelled at Stansted Airport, after he had to take a cab there because the trains weren’t running. He was then told that there are no flights from Stansted for the next couple of days, and he had to take the cab back to Cambridge. At least he got his room back for free – nice after having spent loads of money on cab rides and new plane tickets (fun fact: Ryanair doesn’t have to reimburse when a flight is cancelled due to weather). Flight cancellation due to that kind of snow is frankly ridiculous. A year ago, I flew in similar (or even worse) weather, and all we had to endure was a thirty-minute delay to defrost the wings.

There is an even sadder side to the story: for example, a wheelchair user from Cambridge was forced to stay indoors because her wheelchair got stuck in the slush. Snow or ice also makes it more dangerous for elderly people to move around – indeed, it makes it more dangerous for all of us, but elderly people are more vulnerable to serious injuries.

We can’t change the weather, but we have had the technology to remove snow for a couple of decades now. So why accept that people can’t leave their homes, or are endangered, or that you can’t travel, just because of a bit of snow?