Frozen Britain: the Country in Chaos

先日、イタリアから帰って来た。イギリスは今、クリスマス前から続く寒波で、非常に寒い。1981/82年以来、最悪の寒波で、最高気温10度前後だったイタリアの気候に慣れていた体には応える。天気も悪く、帰ってから毎日空はどんより、雪がちらついている。帰りの機中から雪に覆われた光景(上の写真)を見て、2時間弱のフライトで、景色がこんなにも違うものかと不思議な気持ちになった。

イギリスの冬は高緯度の割には温暖で、厳しい寒さに慣れていないので、大寒波が来ると途端に立ち往生してしまう。幸い私たちのフライトは1時間半遅れでヒースロー空港に到着したけれど、国内便、ヨーロッパ便を中心に、ヒースロー空港やガトウィック空港等でキャンセルが相次いで、人々の足に支障が出ている。鉄道の遅れも多く報告されており、12月19日から3日間運休して大ひんしゅくを買ったユーロスターは、7日にまた英仏海峡トンネルで止まってしまった。寒波が原因の事故も増えており、これ以上悪天候が続くと、道路徐氷用の塩不足も予想される。道路の凍結や雪で食物の供給も滞り、悪天候で消費も落ち込み、経済への打撃も深刻だ。多くの学校は休校になり、今週予定されている、義務教育修了時に受ける全国統一試験(GCSE/General Certificate of Secondary Education)にも支障が出る可能性もある。

とまあ、いろいろ混乱が伝えられているけれども、足元が良くないことと交通機関の遅れやキャンセル以外は、ロンドンの街は一応機能している。しかし、0度前後の気温と雪であたふたするとは、たとえ比較的温暖と言っても、冬は平均気温(ロンドン)が5度前後と決して暖かくはないのだから、もうちょっと準備を頑張っていい気がする。

イギリス気象庁(Met Office)の予測は近年ことごとく外れていると、批判の的だ。昨年夏は「バーベキュー・サマー(バーベキューが楽しめるほど暑くて天気のよい夏)」になるという予測を出していたにも関わらず、7月は100年ぶりの歴史的大雨と、雨続きの冷夏に終わった。また、2008-09年冬も暖冬予測を出していたが、一部地域の1月の夜間気温は20年来の寒さ、2月には大雪に見舞われた。そして今年の冬は暖冬である確率が高いと言う予測を出し、気象庁はすっかり面目を失った。しかし気象庁長官は、2008/09の期間に25%もの昇給を享受し、首相より多くの給料をもらっているにも関わらずこの体たらくと、厳しい批判にさらされている。

We came back from Italy the other day. It has been very cold in UK due to the cold front from Russia staying in UK from mid-December, and it is the biggest chill since the winter of 1981/82. As we were used to mild Italian weather of around 10º for 2 weeks, we suffer with the chill quite badly. The sky has been always white and it has snowed some times everyday since we are back. I felt strange that less than 2-hour flight showed me the completely different views, when I saw the land just before our airplane touched down on Heathrow Airport (photo above).

British winter is rather mild although it is located in comparatively high latitude. The country is not used to severe cold weather and gets paralyzed when the big cold front hits. Luckily our flight arrived at Heathrow airport with 1 hour and half delay, but many flights, mainly domestic and short-haul flights, have been canceled and have been affecting people’s travel plans. Many delays of train lines also reported, and Eurostar broke down AGAIN on January 7th – it got huge criticism after notoriously three days of service were cancelled from December 22nd. The accidents and injuries related to the chill has been increasing, and it is predicted that salt stocks may run out if the cold weather stays long. Food supply has been disturbed due to the snow and icy roads. Consumer activities have dropped and UK economy has been hit hard. Many schools are closed, and it is anticipated that some students may fail to sit this week’s GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education), if weather prevents them taking the exam.

Although these reported chaos sound terrible, London functions relatively OK, except the mess on the streets and cancellations and delays of public transportations. However, it seems to me that UK has failed to prepare for the relatively mild cold front (for me) just below 0º temperature and has gone into such a mess. It is true that the winter is mild here, but the average winter temperature of around 5º (London) is not warm either, and the cold front, bigger or smaller, could happen anytime.

Met Office, the national weather service, has been heavily criticized for getting its forecasts wrong recently. Their forecast of a “Barbecue Summer” last year ended up heavy rainfall and the wettest July for almost 100 years. The organisation’s prediction of a mild winter in 2008-09 was also criticised after heavy snow fell last February and parts of southern England had their coldest night for 20 years in January. They issued the prediction of high probability of warm winter 2008/09 and again, they are wrong. The head of the Met Office is under attack, as he received a 25% pay rise and now is paid more than the Prime Minister during Met Office is harshly criticized of its incompetency.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2 responses to “Frozen Britain: the Country in Chaos

  1. Pingback: Frozen Britain: the Country in Chaos…Again | everydaylife.style

  2. Pingback: A Bad Day for England | everydaylife.style

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s