Exactly 1o months ago, Ireland experienced “severe” winter conditions, which reminded many Irish residents of “The Day After Tomorrow” movie – except the water didn’t really freeze, we weren’t hit by a tsunami and we only hit minus 8 degrees. The “arctic” weather conditions crippled Ireland within hours and ALL traffic stood still.
Getting snow during the winter months should be expected. November to February should be considered as winter in most regions. So, getting some snow should not come as a surprise to anybody during those months.
However, the country got paralysed again when Ireland got hit by snow and frost again in November. The snow appeared several days before it was expected.
Back in January, almost 10 months earlier, 98% of the Irish registered cars demonstrated a total lack of driving skills in snowy or icy road conditions. But happily by the end of the January blitz, a lot of drivers had improved their driving skills considerably. At least they were only skidding in their own lane.
– the remaining 2% were all the foreigners, from countries that actually had learnt how to drive in slippery conditions and who drive with caution.
Amazingly, when the snow returned, ALL Irish drivers had forgotten how to drive in treacherous conditions. Cars were skidding all over the place as soon as the first ground frost made the roads slippery. For some reason, people think that you can still go 65mph on snow covered roads and that the breaks will not be affected.
But you cannot blame the Irish driver for bad roads. The local authorities had problems in January and roads were slippery for weeks. They failed to deploy enough grit and snow clearing machines to assist the traffic flowing better. 10 months later, the roads were neglected again and the few snow plough machines were still parked in some remote warehouse or perhaps sold to the UK.
On the very day the temperatures dropped and the snow hit Dublin, I was at work. Funnily enough, I had decided to get a nice big lunch, as it had been a busy morning at the office. As I returned from Toss’d (the best lunch restaurant around) it started to snow heavily. Since I’m from a country that can actually handle snow, I didn’t think much of it – and I assumed that the local authorities had learned from Big White Storm in January … only 10 months earlier.
Suddenly I got a text message from a very good friend who advised me to go home since local buses would stop driving shortly.
Like any captain on a ship, I managed to tell my staff to go home early, so they didn’t wouldn’t get stuck at work and get stranded far away from their families. Shortly after, all buses stopped running.
I had to get home too, but how? My fantastic PA organised a cab, which arrived at 3.47. But, I’m a very considerate person, so I waited for my two sister-in-laws to join me in the taxi, as they were in town too. After all, we were all heading the same way. It was actually my wife who organized the emergency escape and coordinated the troops from the command centre (our house).
Happily we jumped into the taxi and started the long journey home – in reality, it’s only a 12 kilometre journey, which at most would take 40 minutes in rush hour traffic.
Suddenly, my travel companions left the comfort of the taxi, only to return with food and coffee. The taxi driver even managed to step out to get a cigarette – bad habit. I knew it was going to be a long journey home.
To make matters more interesting, my fantastic iPhone 4 was running out of batteries, so I couldn’t even listen to music or watch movies.
It was bumper to bumper as far as the eye could see! Where were the salt/grit machines?
My wife was growing increasingly nervous and rang every 15 minutes to get an update.
Almost 4 hours later, and €125 less in my valet, we finally arrived home. It was an emotional re-union with the missus and kids, as if we hadn’t seen each other for weeks or as if I had just returned from a dangerous expedition to the Centre of the Earth.
I was home. 4 hours is a long time to spend with a Dublin taxi driver, but this guy was a sound and friendly driver. We didn’t talk much. He had little to give out about, which is very unusual for a Dublin taxi driver. The journey even made the national news!
So, the arctic conditions returned with a vengeance and caused havoc – again. The Irish authorities hadn’t learned from their previous experience (only 10 months earlier) and most Irish drivers had to re-learn how to drive in slippery conditions again. Believe it or not but the country was temporarily closed due to “unforeseen” snow during the winter season!
Happy ending? Well of course, we might get a white Christmas this year.