Icy Ireland

Swans on the Canal

While all you American northerners live with three or six feet of snow and sub-zero temperatures, we’re dealing with snow, ice, and sub-zero here, too.  Of course, it’s sub-zero Celsius, but whatever.

Actually, it’s hit pretty hard.  Started in early December, and we’ve spend the last three weeks hardly getting above freezing.  Down in the teens (Fahrenheit) at night.  The frosts are heavy and very slick on the roads for some reason, and while there hasn’t been much sleet, we get freezing fog.  Roads are treacherous, and THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE IN IT!  (Actually reminds me of a college friend  who said she hated to drive in the snow.  I asked why, since she was from Montana. She said “because you Oregonians don’t know how!”)

Because it doesn’t happen often enough for them to learn, the Irish tend to be very very very cautious.  Long line of cars doing seventeen kilometers an hour going up a wet hill on  a good highway, and then, wow, up to thirty on the way down.  Then I got off at a roundabout, curved nicely around, and came to a dead stop.  Here, the road was icy.  Everyone had slowed down to about 5 mph, but there was another hill and we ended up in a line just sitting, with one car stopped in the oncoming lane.  (Yes, it was wide enough to have two proper lanes.)  The second guy in line finally got out, slipped and slid his way to the front car, talked for a bit, and we finally moved on.  Judging from the tracks on the ice when I passed, I think she had been going slowly, saw a car coming, got scared and either braked or jerked the wheel.  Anyway, got scared some more and just sat there.  And the oncoming car figured that if she was stopped, he better not pass!

Finally got home.  That was Christmas Eve, but it hasn’t changed much.  I wish they’d learn a few things:  1) drive smoothly, don’t hit brakes, downshift, or jerk the wheel.  2) don’t slow down to almost nothing on a hill or you’ll never make it up.  3) use the grass or gravel on the side of the road for traction, especially if it’s frozen.  (Two people were pushing a car up a hill, slipping and sliding themselves.  We were going the other direction, Blaik leaned out and suggested they get over on the verge, and once they did, they were fine.)

Current Snow in Ireland Mountains

On the other hand, we’ve got snow coming in, even in coastal Cork.  Four inches, if you can believe that!!  The county, which is large and very hilly, has only four “gritters,” so not very many roads or intersections get any help.  (They don’t sand the roads, they grit them.)  Met Eireann’s forecast goes out 10 days, and the cold snap has no let up in sight, here or across the country.  Part of Ireland have lots of snow already.  Cork ran through their year’s worth of road salt in the first 3 weeks of December, got some more in, and will finish that tonight.  More isn’t coming until Tuesday – not good for a city built on steep hills, or for the hilly highways running to Killarney, Bantry, Limerick, or even to Dublin or Waterford.  Dublin ran out of salt, got more in late last week, but will be out again and they say on the news that it will take the next ten days to source more from Europe (the UK is out), get it here, unloaded and delivered to local areas.

Lough Rea in Galway

City buses shut down sometimes (not good for a country where many people don’t drive, but rely on public transit), cross-country buses are on a very restricted schedule.  Schools are out, but kids are having fun.  Except for the stupid ones who fell through the ice on the lough.  Generally good for skating, but not out in the middle!

Ah well, hope you’re all warm, wherever you are.

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2 Responses to Icy Ireland

  1. Elizabeth says:

    This cracks me up! It hits 17f and your schools shut down! 12″ of snow, -25f and we don’t even call a snow day. I’ll hold the kids out if it’s -30. Just too cold to wait for the bus. Either that or I’ll drive ’em myself.

    We don’t salt here, either. We sand. Prob’ly the equivalent of “gritting”. Does anyone there have tire chains? Snow tires? Sniped tires? Decent tread?

    Have fun! :):)

    • Jennifer says:

      Well, in a land where you can’t buy snow shovels or ice for your sidewalk, it gets pretty serious! A few days ago, the news showed a dump truck with sand, with one guy shoveling it out onto the road and four guys with brooms spreading it around the intersection! Looks like we got our 4 inches last night. Gorgeous! Blaik drove to work today, but I’m not sure he can get back up the hill. 🙂