A couple of snow plows make short work of snow in Missouri. (Photo via)
Once again, much of the UK has come screeching to a halt due to what, in any other advanced country, would be a relatively low-impact snowstorm. Much of the southeast, East Anglia, and the northeast got a few inches of snow, some places as much as 15 centimeters yesterday, with more having dropped last night.
Gatwick Airport will be closed for another day. The M20 is closed to Folkestone, diverting to the A20. (Follow @kent_police on Twitter for up-to-date road closure information, and personal replies to your queries.) Thousands of schools are closed, some for a fourth day, which means parents are forced to stay home from work to look after their children. So offices, shops, and other businesses are operating at diminished capacity.
And don't think public transportation will save you—trains have ceased operations in some parts of the country, and the airwaves were full of stories last night about stranded commuters.
I've lived in places in the US which get about as much snow as the UK. Ohio is a good example. I remember once driving through Ohio to Pennsylvania, just as a snowstorm was expected to hit. We admired the legions of snow plows poised in the median of the interstate, armed for battle with overflowing salt dispensers and sword-like plows pointed toward the ground. (In fact, I think we waxed poetical about them, odes which are, thankfully, long since lost.)
Such a sight doesn't happen here. Oh, they grit the roads, with a mixture of sand and salt. But I've never seen a proper plow, with a giant shovel in front for shoveling away the snow. And from the hundreds of traffic cameras fixed on the motorways, you can easily see that that's the problem: too much snow in the roads, despite the grit. (There is no shortage of traffic cameras on UK roads. Which says something about priorities that should be saved for another post.)
What they need here is proper snow removal equipment.
Which leads to my proposal: The UK should buy snow plows from the US. Thousands of them.
This will help the trade imbalance in the US, a vital step toward full economic recovery, as well as provide a stimulus for the economy. Since trained snow plow operators would be needed, unemployment would be eased as well. Meanwhile, here in the UK, productivity would increase as millions of workers could continue to show up for work. Travelers, like me, would carry on with their travel plans and continue to stimulate the economy of Europe.
It's a win-win proposition, no?
Although you'll probably have to wait until the civil servants are able to return to work.
Failing this, perhaps they could recondition the up-for-sale aircraft carrier HMS Invincible (ha!) into much needed snow plows.