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Prepared for Spring?

With a mild winter almost behind us, the future could hold a less than mild spring.

With the rough spring that has already battered much of the United States in the form of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, Scotland must ask the questions of what spring will bring, and how prepared we are.

According to Andrew Slorance of the Sottish Government, Scotland is a mixed bag when it comes to weather with the risk being ”not so much seasonal” but that at any point there can be any sort of weather, from snow fall to rain and high temperatures.

The threat from weather in Scotland is primarily winter weather, often with prolonged periods of low temperatures and heavy rain fall. However, that is not the extent, with high winds, fog and mist, and flooding also causing problems for citizens.

Flooding is often problematic and can occur during any season,  a lot of money has been invested in flood defence to protect low-lying land.

Scottish Government have a whole range of plans in place for the possible severe weather that could come up. They are prepared, tested and published on the website Ready Scotland, which is sponsored by the Scottish Government.

”The position we hold is ‘Hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” says Slorance. ” We try to be as prepared as possible… but hope it doesn’t happen.”

Scotland deals with instances of severe weather by devolving responsiblity to the lowest level with the local responder being the primary first responder.  The idea is that the local council, the local police, fire and medial officials know the best way to keep their area safe during sudden severe weather.

They also work closely with the Met Office, in order to give as much notification as possible to the public. The Met warning system has changed within the past year, changing to a four color warning system.  They even offer detailed suggestions for what to do during each of the warning types.

Slorance does say that  every instance is different, but keeping the public safe is a top priority.

Mild winter boosts hydro power

Scotland’s hydroelectric power stations have received a boost from a warm and wet winter. Energy production in Hydro plants was revealed to be the highest since records began in the 1930s.

This data come from energy company SSE, who run more than 50 hydroelectric schemes across the Highlands, Perth, Kinross, Argyll and Bute.

The high rainfall over winter and the rapid thaw of snow were perfect for hydroelectric production. The previous record for hydroelectric production over a year was 3,890 gigawatt hours (GWh) but the figures for 2011/12 look set to pass the 4,000 GWh mark.

The winter was especially warm; temperatures in Aberdeen airport went as high as 17.2C last Tuesday.

Paul Smith, SSE managing director for generation said that the weather conditions “ensured the continuing success of hydro power as a valued source of renewable energy.”

Winter weather proves not a disaster

Snowboarding in Cairngorm

By Claire McCann

The winter snow that cost Scotland £4.16 million last year in ground salt and road repairs is not all bad, as a Scottish Ski resort sees substantial rise in profit.

Cairngorm Mountain Ltd who run a ski site saw their finances change from a loss of £42, 728 in the previous years to a profit of £736, 031 up to March 2010.

[Read more…]

GRRRR-IT! Anger as grit only now hits the streets

By Rahsian Parris

Photo courtesy of Markgorman

After several weeks of extreme weather conditions and heavy snowfall, the city of Edinburgh is slowly beginning its recovery from the the worst winter in decades. Temperatures as low as -18C had been recorded in Kinbrace, Sutherland, however, also on Saturday, the buzzing Capital of Scotland and its neighbour, Glasgow, saw temperatures rise to a slightly warmer 4C and 0C respectively. These warmer temperatures should come as great news to the hundreds of people left in the deep freeze without working boilers; however, the snow is gradually starting to melt and yet another crisis is pending, sending shock-waves through the city. With slippery roads and slush ridden pavements the city is desperately in need of grit and though the city center and areas surrounding it seem mildly affected, higher up in the hills residents are suffering.

Ms King of South West Edinburgh area, Colinton, expressed her dismay at the current state of the residential area due to excessive snowfall and the slow progress of gritting in her area saying “throughout the whole of the Christmas period I’ve pretty much been stuck in my house, unable to move my car and in fear of even walking down the street to the supermarket because the streets are so snowy and icy and there hadn’t been any grit laid down. I came out this morning and was pleasantly surprised to see that the roads had been somewhat cleared and that grit had finally been put down, but it’s taken far too long; it’s been what? Three weeks now? It’s ridiculous”.

An unhappy elderly resident stated “the pavements have been cleared near the school in time for the start of the new term, but the kids are young, strong and stable, I have almost slipped many a time on these streets since it started snowing, what about those of us that cannot just pick ourselves back up?”

Grit, the deicing salt responsible for making icey roads safer to drive and walk on has been in huge demand as the wider United Kingdom, including Wales and many cities in England were panicked after it was announced that there may have been a shortage in supplies of grit throughout. However, over the past couple of days saviour lorry deliveries, of which the first supplies were loaded with 12,000 tonnes of grit, are aiding in the fight against the freeze, just as the country received further warning to be aware that the snowfall may not be over.

In a recent press release about The City of Edinburgh Council‘s work during the current weather conditions, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, Cllr Jenny Dawe supported the council’s efforts stating: “The last few weeks have seen a massive amount of increased pressure on Council services. I am confident that our staff have been putting in maximum effort, working around the clock in the face of the difficult weather conditions, to reduce the impact for those living and working in the city. […] We have seen some treacherous conditions on the roads and our priority must remain [with] the main routes into the city, access routes for emergency services and routes to hospitals. We are acutely aware of the impact on local areas because of the priority system. Residents should utilise the 1,600 on street grit bins across the city, which are replenished as quickly as possible. […] I am sure that people are thinking of those less able than themselves and are remaining vigilant and lending a helping hand where possible.”

Scotland Wracked by Floods

By Simon Brown.

_46654786_flooding1Scots are used to complaining about the weather and this weekend was no exception as floods surged through most of the country, interrupting public transport and generally causing disruption.  At the peak of activity on Sunday evening the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) had 21 flood watches, 17 flood warnings and 4 severe flood warnings in place.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Once again we have seen the misery and destruction flooding can cause. Our thoughts are with those whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by the overnight floods… I’d like to thank all those who have again responded so quickly and effectively to minimise the impact of the floods.”  She also added that climate change was mostly to blame, saying that “flooding events such as these are likely to occur with increasing frequency.”

“We also need to take radical steps to tackle our carbon emission levels and to ensure communities get the protection they need, which is why we have recently pushed far-reaching climate change and flooding legislation through Parliament.”

Fife Council in particular was criticised for its handling of the floods, with Councillor Tom Adams dubbing their response, “horrendous and shocking”.  Another Councillor,  Andrew Roger, said, “I was on the phone to Fife Council’s emergency number for 18 minutes without a reply, it was very frustrating.

“A resident warned council officials on Friday about the blockage in the river and went back to check later that day to see if they had removed it but they hadn’t.”

The Government continue to operate their 24-hour Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

Weather Sparks Hogmanay Party Fears

With the current weather causing havoc in Edinburgh there are fears that mother nature could ruin the capital’s world famous Hogmanay celebrations.

Here with the full story is Fiona McIlwraith.

First Cold Snap Predicted By Weekend

The Met office has warned people to be prepared for the first harsh onset of the British winter with snow threatening the North and East coast as far South as Kent. Tempratures could plummet to at least 5 below zero while struggling to reach 5° Celsius during the daytime. A second cold snap will hit early next week giving the British public their first taste of prevailing winter.

Low pressure will develop in the North Sea on Friday strengthening the North wind and causing temperatures to plummet. “It’s going to be windy, with a strong northerly wind of 30 to 35mph – a gale – down North Sea coasts.” Says Helen Chivers a forecaster for the Met office; “We are expecting sleet and snow to come down the North Sea with falls on the coast, the North Yorkshire Moors and down into Lancashire. They will certainly come all the way down the coast, possibly into Kent.”

The warning comes at a time of year when police forces up and down the country are warning drivers of the dangers of winter motoring. It is only a matter of weeks after a three day campaign of spot checks to ensure vehicles are properly maintained to cope with winter conditions as well as checking road signs in vulnerable areas such as around schools, hospitals and the approaches to accident black-spots.

Chief Inspector Andy Orr of Strathclyde Police Road Policing Unit issued the following warning to coincide with the campaign “Winter weather can often bring challenging driving conditions, with motorists having to contend with rain, sleet, snow and fog. In these instances, drivers have to be extra careful and need to slow down and be vigilant to changes in road surfaces. Motorists must also make sure their lights are on and are visible and ensure the windscreen is clear at all times. ” He added, “Preparation is vital in the winter months, taking a few simple precautions can save a great deal of time, inconvenience and ultimately keep you and your family safe when driving.” Cyclists and pedestrians are also reminded of the importance of their safety; road saftey officers highly stress the importance of high visibility and reflective clothing.

Up to date weather information for the British Isles can be found on the Met Office website. Further information on winter road safety can be found here.

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