i Editor's Letter: The weather is just the weather


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The Independent Online


I hesitate to write this, I really do. Mostly because the chances are that by the time you read this some of you may have had a light dusting of snow, and for the rest of us? Well, it will be pretty nippy. But, come on people of Britain, what’s happened to us? Once we were noted for our phlegmatic, no-nonsense stiff-upper-lip approach to life, rooted, partly, in our temperate climate.

Now we have become a nation of weather wimps, alarmed at the prospect, and defeated by the impact, of relatively moderate weather fluxes. I don’t mean the floods, whose devastating effects I do not wish to belittle, I mean normal, seasonal weather. I also do not underestimate the difficulties poor weather brings, particularly to elderly people, both practically and financially.

But... A casual glance at a local weather forecast for a country noted for cold winters reveals that Moscow’s weather forecast for today ranges between a “high” of -9C and a low of -15C, Tuesday it’s -16C. It will start snowing on Wednesday morning and continue all through Thursday. It is simply what happens in winter. They will adapt and cope.

I know 2012 was wet, but, for the most part, the weather is just the weather. We must learn to a) deal with extremes better, especially when we have been as forewarned as we have this winter, and b) deal with the commonplace, by which I mean a dusting of snow in winter should not be able to shut airports, rail lines and major roads. We have failed to do so for so long that it has become a national disgrace.

There are two “buts”. The first is significant: it has been so wet that our food crops may have suffered, both in quantity and quality. We will pay at the tills for this. The second “but” is trivial: we appear to have had many extremes except the one I would welcome: a really warm and overly sunny summer. Now that really might be worth a few headlines in the Daily Express.