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What fun!

What fun it is when you're driving along the motorway, and you can't tell whether or not you are properly in a lane because you can't see the white lines under all the snow!

What fun to discover that when you try to correct your position, the car starts skidding!

And to realise that all of the other drivers around you have no more control over their cars than you do!

And to gradually see the illuminated signs which are telling you that there are hazardous driving conditions and that a temporary speed limit of 40mph is in force disappearing behind a coating of snow!

And when what would normally be a 2h15m journey takes closer to 4 hours because even 40mph is in fact way too fast in weather like that, so that you have to do most of it at more like 20-30 miles an hour.

And seeing at least 15 vehicles at the side of the road with their hazard flashers on during that time, only one of which was being attended to by a repair van, and three of which were in actively dangerous positions.

And driving past an articulated lorry which had jack-knifed across all four lanes of the opposite carriage-way, complete with a van and a car smashed into the side of it.

What fun!

I'm glad to say I am safely back home in Leeds now, but that was easily the worst drive I have ever done. I very definitely wouldn't have set off if I'd had the faintest idea it would get that bad, but Birmingham was merely slushy, with the snow that had fallen earlier in the evening actively melting; and weather reports had told me the same was true in Leeds, which was perfectly accurate. It was just everything in between that was the problem - and by the time I discovered that, it was way too late...

Update: obviously I couldn't take a picture, as I was driving, but this person did:


They were clearly heading in the opposite direction to me, and didn't know yet about the jack-knifed lorry causing the jam. Just horrible, all round.

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Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
minnesattva
Dec. 27th, 2014 12:05 am (UTC)
I'm very familiar with this kind of driving, it happens here a lot and is the most stressful situation to drive in I'm glad it's done and you can relax now!
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 12:15 am (UTC)
Poor you! I have driven in snow before, but never anything like that bad. It's exactly the sort of weather which tends to feature in news reports about hundreds of people getting stuck in their cars on the motorway. I've always had thoughts when watching those reports before such as "Well, why did you all set off in it, then?", but I will be kinder and more charitable in future, now that I know how it can happen.
minnesattva
Dec. 27th, 2014 12:22 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's definitely easy to drive into such things. I grew up among people who pay such meticulous attention to the weather that I know the differences between places sometimes only a few miles apart can be drastic. And as you say, once you get started, it's usually better to keep going, but even the best option isn't always very good.
pseudomonas
Dec. 27th, 2014 12:42 am (UTC)
Eep. That sounds most unpleasant. Very glad you're home in one piece.
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks - me too, I can tell you!
parrot_knight
Dec. 27th, 2014 01:00 am (UTC)
Thankfully the snow hasn't got this far north. I'm sure we used to be better at dealing with this sort of weather.
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 12:51 pm (UTC)
I'm sure we used to be better at dealing with this sort of weather.

Hmm, I'm not convinced. I suspect that idea is a 'Blitz spirit'-style myth, and probably a dangerous one too, if it encourages people to try and carry on regardless when the conditions don't allow for it.
parrot_knight
Dec. 27th, 2014 01:03 pm (UTC)
I don't see it as a Blitz spirit myth. While heavy snow always brought infrastructure to a standstill, ISTR more snowploughs clearing roads in the north when I was a boy, and complaints more recently that the machinery once available to resolve blockages is no longer present.
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 01:44 pm (UTC)
But people seem to expect now that the snow should be cleared the instant it lands, which could never have been the case, surely. I think it's easy to remember the clearing and forget the hours of blockage beforehand when looking back retrospectively. Certainly, I know from my Mum, who lived on a dairy farm in the Midlands in the 1960s, that there were snowy winters when the milk lorry could not get to their farm to collect their milk, which obviously was a pretty massive problem for them as it meant lost income from selling it - hence her remembering it so clearly.
parrot_knight
Dec. 27th, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
True, true.
steepholm
Dec. 27th, 2014 08:55 am (UTC)
I had know idea any of this was happening! (It's a different story in Hampshire.)
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 12:54 pm (UTC)
That was the treacherous thing, I think. If I'd stayed the night in Birmingham, as I briefly considered doing, I might never have known what I'd escaped. But the weather conditions seemed so trivial when I set off, that I was quite sure I would be fine. And after all, the motorways are always clear, aren't they, because of all the traffic? Hah! I know better now.
the_lady_lily
Dec. 27th, 2014 09:26 am (UTC)
Oh good grief. I'd picked up about the flurries in Birmingham, but had no idea it was getting that heavy further out from the cities. Very glad to hear you made it home in one piece, and hope your plans don't take you far from the sofa today!
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 12:59 pm (UTC)
It seems like the epicentre of it all was Sheffield and the Peak District, which unfortunately was exactly what I had to pass through to get home. Ludicrously, the snow all disappeared just as I came into Leeds, giving way to wintry rain, so that I'd never have known how bad it was in between if I'd been here all evening either.

Oh, and yes, I am firmly ensconced on my sofa now, and with no more taxing plans than what combination of Doctor Who, Hammer Horror and Dracula adaptations I will soak up for the rest of the day. :-)
huskyteer
Dec. 27th, 2014 09:49 am (UTC)
Jeepers. Well done! Hope you enjoyed a well-deserved drink when you got in!
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 01:00 pm (UTC)
Thankfully, I had been sent home complete with a microwaveable M&S brandy hot chocolate, which was EXACTLY what I needed to warm up and wind down when I finally got here. :-)
huskyteer
Dec. 27th, 2014 06:04 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that sounds perfect!
venta
Dec. 27th, 2014 12:24 pm (UTC)

Yikes, that sounds awful! So glad you got home without mishap.


We're about to start the drive south down the M1. It looks ok at the moment, hope it stays that way!

strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 01:03 pm (UTC)
It really was! Definitely a journey I feel I got away with, more than anything else.

Seriously, comb the weather and traffic reports in fine detail before you set off, and make sure you're all topped up with supplies, screen-wiper etc just in case. Good luck!
goddessofchaos
Dec. 27th, 2014 02:27 pm (UTC)
I hate driving in snow and ice =/ I've had a lot of practice at it over the years, but it doesn't get any more pleasant.
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, I suppose you must have done, given where you live. Do you find it's worth putting snow tyres on your car, or is the snow not frequent enough even where you are to make it worthwhile?
goddessofchaos
Jan. 4th, 2015 07:25 pm (UTC)
A lot of people round here do, but mostly those who have to drive on smaller country roads. I don't tend to drive out of town much in winter, so I don't find it worthwhile.
thanatos_kalos
Dec. 27th, 2014 03:54 pm (UTC)
::hugs:: I grew up in the snow belt & even there everyone somehow forgets how to drive in snow and ice. I'm glad you got home safe!

Quick tips on snow driving, though-- I know your instinct is to grip the wheel as tight as you can, but that's actually the worst thing to do, esp if you're in a skid. Keep a loose grip on the wheel so you can move your hands easily to compensate for any skidding AND so that, if you do jump or start when a skid begins, you won't yank on the wheel uncontrolledly which will just make matters worse. Also, try to weigh down the car so it's harder to skid or be blown off the road by high winds-- I used to carry sandbags or big bags of kitty litter or traction sand so that I could get out of parking spots as well. Also, and I know this sounds even weirder, if it's a road you drive a lot, or somewhere that you need to turn off, when the weather is good count power poles or something similar that won't move but will be visible in all but the absolute whiteout conditions. That's got me home more often than I can say. Sadly there's not much I can offer in terms of trying to sort which lane you're in-- I wish you Brits salted better!-- but try to memorise how anything that overhangs a junction looks from whatever lane you want to be in, and use that compared to how it looks when you're driving to estimate if you're even close.
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 04:58 pm (UTC)
TBH, my main strategy for coping with snow when driving in the UK is just not to do it, which works absolutely fine 99.9% of the time, as we usually don't get enough for that to become a problem. I would very definitely have applied that strategy yesterday as well if I'd realised it was needed!
thanatos_kalos
Dec. 27th, 2014 05:05 pm (UTC)
::g:: Staying home is a good strategy too. :)
kissmeforlonger
Dec. 27th, 2014 04:06 pm (UTC)
Scary stuff! Glad you're safe.
strange_complex
Dec. 27th, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC)
Cheers!
wig
Dec. 28th, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC)
I had a pretty tense time driving down from Leeds to Birmingham yesterday. Like you, I had been unaware of the road conditions - fortunately a lot of the snow had been cleared off at least the two slower lanes on the motorway. It got trickier once I got off the motorway.
strange_complex
Dec. 28th, 2014 09:51 pm (UTC)
Commiserations! :-( I hope you won't have to drive again until it's all gone.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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