Geography in the News Essay

Harvey: As you know, in recent weeks there have been large bouts of snow throughout the UK. These Snowstorms are said to be the worst in 18 years, compared to the usual light snow showers we have once a year.

Conor: But why was the Snow so bad? The snow we had was far worse than expected, with snow up to a foot and higher falling on some areas in England, Scotland and Wales.

Alex: More importantly, why wasn’t Britain prepared for the chill and why did it cause such economical and social havoc.

Jack: Was the snow blown out of proportion by the media and what were the international response? Several countries criticised our reaction and how many people had the day off work and School. Compared to some countries snow, our country had a light shower.

Harvey: These are some of the questions we will address in the Presentation. Firstly, we should look at how the snow formed in Britain.

Conor: Snow forms in clouds and begins as water vapour, which is how any normal precipitate cloud forms. More and more water makes these water droplets increase in size.

Alex: Cold air then freezes these water droplets into ice crystals, which have six branches and look like the typical flake in the picture shown.

Jack: It must be below freezing for these crystals to form.

Harvey: All these ice crystals are different, but all are symmetrical. They Form in different sizes and more and more water vapour freezes onto them.

Conor: When the cloud reaches a dense level, the flakes will be released. They then come into contact with warmer air as they fall which melts them slightly.

Alex: This melting causes the flakes to stick together, forming the typical fluffy snow which hits us on ground level. It is hard to find single snowflakes in their branched out shape because of this.

Jack: The reason that snow lasts for such a long time compared to rain or hail is obviously because of temperature, but other factors also take part.

Harvey: The reflectivity of snow means that most of the sun light which would cause it to melt is reflected, meaning it takes longer to heat up.

Conor: Snow also forms a crisp layer if left overnight, due to low temperatures freezing it over. This is why snow is far icier and heavier if left a day than when it falls. The snow which hit Britain was called a snowstorm, which means it lasts longer, is more severe and needs colder conditions to go on than normal snow.

Alex: The temperature would have had to be below freezing the entire time the snow fell on ground level and a large current of cold air is the reason for this. Most snowflakes which form in clouds fall as rain, but when the air at ground level is freezing, the snow continues.

Jack: Cool currents of air freeze warm currents; this cool air is what causes precipitation clouds to release snow and what makes our temperatures drop.

Harvey: These cold drifts come from the north or south pole areas.

Conor: We know that the snow was far worse than most years, but several factors must have changed for this to occur. Why has the usual day of light snow, transformed suddenly to a bout of heavy snowstorms?

Alex: Firstly, the temperature had to drop dramatically, which happened due to a cold front from the Arctic North Sea sweeping over Britain. The front collided with an oncoming front of warm air blowing in, froze this warm air and froze Britain.

Jack: Also, due to the Snow being reflective, the low temperatures were sustained as the sun’s rays were reflected and Britain stayed cold.

Harvey: On top of this cold Drift was the large precipitation cloud which is pointed out in the next few slides.

Conor: Global warming played a major part in this, it has caused increased storm events to occur throughout the planet which causes uneven precipitation levels globally. These uneven levels cause highly disrupted weather patterns.

Alex: For example, a drought in one area, while a sudden burst in precipitation in another. This shows in the following diagrams.

Jack: At one point our precipitation levels were average, when suddenly a large cloud came from nowhere.

Harvey: This shows a link between uneven weather and Global warming, and our recent snow events being so catastrophic.

Conor: As you can see, usual precipitation levels were occurring on the second of February, with no sign of an increase. On the third however, we see a highly increased level, with a large dense cloud heading for Britain.

Alex: Compared to other parts of Europe, this cloud sticks out and there is no clear lead up to it. Later on that day, the cloud appeared extremely large, with levels of 10 millimetres.

Jack: On the fourth, this cloud split up with a large section heading directly for Britain.

Harvey: This diagram shows the path of the cloud, and why there were conditions in Britain for it to snow.

Conor: The cold front from the arctic froze up the cloud and the ground level air, meaning the snow could go on for days. It is because of this lethal combination that Britain went into a state of meltdown.

Alex: Besides the cold and weather, the snow had some devastating effects on Britain. Our country seems unable to deal with such weather conditions and the warning from the government was not until after panic.

Jack: The effects on the education were among the worst, with over 2000 schools across Britain shut on the first and not worst day of snow.

Conor: Other effects were on hospitals, transport and business. We will look into this later in the presentation.

Harvey: The first snow day was on Thursday, second of February, nearly all schools in London and Birmingham were closed and the Met office received a record number of calls from Schools wondering whether to close.

Conor: Our own school closed due to the difficulty for pupils getting into school and also the dangers of ice and snow. Schools were told after this day to be far stricter on when to close and there was not another closure, despite worse snow. Our country panicked it seems on the first day and had to get its act together.

Alex: Russia blames us for weak preparation and says its own schools are almost always open, we need to toughen up to weather like this as with higher levels of Uneven weather patterns, global warming will take its toll in years to come with worse weather.

Jack: Although Schools were badly affected, this was mainly down to lack of travel, which was hit with a bombshell of breakdowns, accidents and other hindrances.

Harvey: Travel services were in ruins, as the weather in Britain is not like this normally, our vehicles, roads and speed limits are not built around it naturally causing mayhem.

Conor: Icy roads made travel to and from work or school or in fact anywhere near impossible in most places, with Grit on the roads diminishing fast, smaller roads were left snowy so several people were literally trapped in their houses.

Alex: On top of this, even public transport failed. On the first day six million bus passengers were left waiting for a bus never to come, nearly all bus services in London were halted due to dangerous conditions and in Birmingham the bus services continually switched timetables and routes.

Jack: In London, every tube line and train line was suspended at least partially except Victoria.

Harvey: With hundreds of mainline commuter rail services closed, people were stranded and many unable to get to work. The country slipped up and was mocked for it afterwards.

Conor: Travelling by plane was virtually impossible; as most planned flights at all London airports were deemed unsafe due to slippery runways. Heathrow, London and Luton city’s airports were all closed, with Gatwick and Birmingham subject to severe delays and short notice cancellations.

Alex: One plane in Scotland came physically off the runway and into a near-by field, which caused panic, however luckily no one was injured but the airports runways were swiftly closed.

Conor: Several car accidents and sledging accidents occurred, with two ambulances over turning on the A909, Scotland.

Alex: four road accidents were reported on one stretch of road in County Sligo, Ireland.

Harvey: Two 4×4 vehicles became stranded in the mountains after heavy snowfall and food was brought to them by skiers until they were rescued.

Conor: Ambulances and helicopters could not get to a woman giving birth and fire-fighters were mobilised due to thick snow conditions.

Alex: Three men were sledging at devils dyke and were severely injured having to be airlifted out and taken to hospital.

Jack: Five girls were sledging, one died after being airlifted to hospital sadly, the others all came out with minor injuries.

Conor: There were many severe injuries and deaths caused by the Snow, one man died of Hypothermia in Aberdeen where the temperature dropped to -18 degrees Celsius.

Alex: A Man was killed in a car crash on sandy bridge, Llanelli on the second of February because of slippery roads.

Jack: A 16 year old girl died after being cut up by barbed wire whilst sledging on a car bonnet near Rotherham, Yorkshire.

Harvey: A 6 year old boy also died when he fell into an iced over pond, He was airlifted to hospital in Wakefield, but died hours later.

Conor: Could these deaths have been prevented however? Our standard of living needs to adapt to conditions like these more effectively next time, or the consequences will be the same.

Harvey: The current economical situation in Britain is not healthy due to the current Global recession, so any un-needed days off are brutal to the amount of loss.

Conor: This is far from what the country needs and profits were diminished.

Alex: A far more serious issue to do with work force was the lack of staff in hospitals that day, a whole fifth of the country’s work force was down and hospitals were hit hard. Injured people were being brought in by the dozen and there was simply not enough staff to deal with it.

Conor: Several people had promised operations postponed by months and a woman was released from heartlands hospital in Birmingham told she would have to wait a further six months for an overdue hip-replacement.

Alex: Several were injured in the ice and snow, many due to falls or sledging however some nasty injuries were caused by objects jutting out unseen beneath the fluff. A man in Worcestershire was impaled on a snapped pipe which he fell onto, he was immediately rushed into hospital and made a full recovery, he was lucky as the spike narrowly missed his spine.

Harvey: That day, we needed hospitals and doctors, Britain showed it simply could not deal with the dangers presented by the weather, a vital sign we need guidance.

Jack: According to the Federation of small business 6.4 million people could not get to work – a tenth of our population. It was also estimated business of around �1.2 billion pounds was lost each day during any days off.

Harvey: This was a large underestimate, due to the snow piling up further and further in some areas meaning more lost business than expected.

Conor: Several people took advantage of the snow day off, however millions were stranded as transport links were dead. Courts were unable to sit due to lack of transport or lack of judge, Business halls were empty and killer profits lost largely.

Alex: Meanwhile, motorways saw around 1,000 miles of traffic, hundreds of accidents and several upturned cars.

Jack: Stephen Alambritis of the federation of small businesses said the effects would be felt throughout the economy.

Harvey: Every level of the economy suffered during the snow, with most shops around Birmingham shut.

Conor: Homeowners again suffered badly and on top of the current climate in the economy could definitely have done without the rising energy and heat bills. Large amounts of power cuts occurred and massive amounts of heat were lost due to unworthy insulation in most houses. This put energy prices at a soaring high level.

Alex: Canada also criticised us at this point and advised us on the proper insulation, with triple glazing. They also use winter tyres in snow and each person is educated on how to live comfortably in the snow.

Jack: Our houses are built for mild conditions, so cannot keep in heat well enough to with hold in the snow.

Harvey: Several houses in Britain were cut off from power with around 500 residents having to live in the cold, many of these being Elderly.

Conor: Aside from business losses, the British economy lost around �500 million a day due to the weather; with consumers stuck at home the industry was useless during the week of snow.

Alex: There were warnings sent out to around three thousand companies across Britain saying they would have to close if profits did not pick up due to massive losses during the time off. Around 80% of Britains business suffered bad losses due to the economic chill.

Conor: There was even a teenage boy treated for Hypothermia in Worcestershire. He was walking and slipped into a freezing lake alone, he spent around 15 minutes in the water before being heard by two kindly walkers, who aided the boy and called an ambulance. In the severe weather, the boy is lucky to be alive as a few more minutes in the water could have killed him.

Alex: The Boy made a full recovery in a Hospital in Redditch luckily, had it not been for the walkers he may not have been so lucky. These harsh weather conditions are clearly to harsh for our economy to stay in a solid state, which is bad reflectively on the government, the country needs to learn from its mistakes and take on board advice from places like Siberia.

Harvey: With uprising Global warming, these conditions may not have been a one off, meaning our country could be in trouble unless we react in a better way.