German efficiency – snow

Having questioned German efficiency in the previous blog, I will restore them to their previous position in this blog.

Over the past few weeks we have experienced unseasonal inclement weather in the South of England and snow has lay on the ground for some time. After more than a decade of warm winters, England is not prepared for snow. We do not have a lot of snow machinery (gritters, snow ploughs etc) and we are not used to having to live with snow. Trains cease to run; airports have no arrivals or departures; postal services can’t deliver; and people can’t drive cars on untreated roads.

Germany had a lot of snow yesterday. This didn’t stop any flights; cars merrily sped through the snow (and – this being Germany – the cars truly sped); and people were happily shopping. Is this just because Germans more used to snow? Or is something else helping them cope with snow?

This morning I got up early to buy breakfast for the family. All the pavements that had inches of snow the night before had been treated by specialist machinery which completely cleared the sidewalks of ice and snow. In the UK, the pavements are caked inches of compacte ice. I’ve never seen any specialist equipment, but – if any have been used – I’d wager that they must have been those icers they use at Ice Hockey games.

Roads had not been cleared of snow, yet cars did not have any problems. 90% of Germans move to winter tyres between October and March (even though until this year, there was nothing to compel them to do so). Admittedly Berlin is a flat city and is not – as in the case of my home area (Surrey Hills) – inclined to significant slopes.

In winter, Germans wear appropriate clothing*. There are no court shoes, mostly snow boots. You won’t find Geordies with t-shirts, but rather people with overcoats. Nobody walks around bare-headed, and quite a few seem to have bear on their heads.

The UK should
1. Invest in more snow equipment
2. Encourage winter tyres
3. Laugh at those who wear sandals in cold weather

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melville Bishop on December 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I hate to criticize your wife’s alma mater but a couple of years ago the expert there said that because of AGW English children would never see snow. Unfortunately our politicians swallowed this garbage and so any decisions were based on this.
    As for Germany, and other cold countries, they plan based on experience. Mind you back in the sixties we did not need winter tyres in Germany on the military vehicles as the oil froze!


  2. Posted by Rosie on December 29, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Impressive German efficiency – good for them.
    I’m a Southerner who works in the North and I thought it only right to acknowledge North East efficiency too. True, there are plenty of Geordies in t-shirts, even in this weather. But it’s also true that they’ve done an incredible job with what has been three weeks of heavy snow, a lot of it over a foot deep. The main roads were cleared very quickly and most people managed to carry out normal working, even after putting up with mountains of snow falling off roofs and taking guttering and Sky dishes along with it. They just got on with it – at a working level from my experience, there was more disruption from 4 inches in London than 12 inches in Morpeth. And Next sold out of furry hats! (Try not to think too hard about the image of a Geordie with t-shirt, mini, sandals and a Russian hat).


    • I think in Southern England that people want a couple of extra days off and take literally government’s advice to avoid unnecessary travel. Incidentally, what is unnecessary travel? Travel you shouldn’t be making?


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