TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess
Being forewarned is forearmed but sometimes I wish I wasn’t a slave to the weather forecast. Rather than look out of the window, I check the weather app on my phone and then look up other cities to see what friends and relatives are waking up to across the country.
Met Office warnings of ice and snow often cover huge swathes of the country as it is too difficult to predict specifics in advance. But that still doesn’t stop me being the voice of doom, refreshing the weather page regularly to see when’s the best time to venture out for a Tesco shop.
Despite warnings, as a nation we seem to be surprised when bad weather does arrive. Roads become blocked, flights are cancelled and schools close. Gung-ho drivers set off, oblivious to the conditions, then break down, having forgotten to prepare their vehicle, pack a shovel or even clear their windscreens properly. Winter tyres or snow chains? No chance.
When the snow does fall, the TV media seem to have a strict protocol which they follow. First, the local reporter is sent out to stand on a motorway flyover, pointing out the grid-locked traffic below. He has forgotten his hat and his anorak isn’t up to the job.
A few more inches over a few more days and the serious national reporters are bussed in. They are kitted out properly: hat, padded gloves and a jacket with a tog rating. In the evenings they stand in front of a lamppost so the light reflects the snowy scene in the background and they hunt out a warm pub so they can interview stranded motorists.
If you see Orla Guerin in your street clutching a microphone, however, you know things have taken a turn for the worse.
For most of the UK, we don’t experience enough extreme weather to put in the resources to deal with it. Countries with regular snowy conditions have, understandably, a better coping mechanism.
On our recent trip to Colorado we were faced with blizzards as we landed at Denver airport. Named the Mile High City because of its elevation, Denver is prepared for winter weather. The runway was clear and we could see a huge operation underway to keep the airport open.
We were picked up by a large four-wheel drive vehicle which would take us to our ski resort: naturally mountains would have to be crossed. Our driver was hoping the Berthoud Pass would still be open. At 11,000 feet, this circuitous mountain road used to be a hazardous proposition for motorists. Now, with three lanes, plenty of guard rails and a commitment from the authorities to keeping the road open, it was negotiated with ease.
Despite cold weather being commonplace, the local media were just as fanatical about temperatures, wind chill factor and the depth of the snow. Viewers sent in their weather pictures, just as they do in the UK, including snaps of cars stuck in drifts and foot-high coverings of snow on forlorn patio tables.
It seems an obsession with weather might be a world-wide phenomenon after all.
You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.blogspot.com