More snow

6th February 2009 – 9.47 am

There was a fresh snowfall yesterday morning, but not so much as to stop me from jumping in the car and making the daily commute. Sadly, the weather north of the M25 had different ideas about my getting to work. The snowfall wasn't great, but combined with the previous snow turning more to ice the conditions around the site became treacherous, not helped by the entrance being shortly ahead of a steep hill.

I managed to get to the exit of the M1 and although there was some traffic building up I attributed this to the jack-knifed lorry further up the motorway that I heard about on radio traffic reports. It took about an hour to make it the half-mile to the roundabout at the end of the slip road and a further two hours to get the other half-mile to the end of the spur road. I am confident I only got that far after people decided to turn around at the end rather than try to press on, because the road down to the site was blocked with stationary traffic. It simply wasn't moving at all.

Having made it so far it was a tough decision not to press on, but I didn't relish spending another few hours sitting in traffic only to get to work incredibly late. I would have bitten the bullet and turned home earlier, to make better use of my time, but being on a motorway prevents any U-turns. Now I had an option to escape the traffic, perhaps for more traffic but at least it would be moving. I was so close to being able to circle the roundabout and turn back the way I came, but the gridlocked traffic shut off the way. Instead, I headed off the roundabout further away from home, but at least I was moving again.

After a bit of incredibly slow driving down slippery hills I made it to the next junction north of the M1 and started heading south again. I noted on my way past that traffic was still stationary, knowing that I made the right decision to try to salvage what I could of the day. I got home without incident and had myself a relaxing time, watching some comedy DVDs, reading in a hot bath, and soloing the Scholomance with my death knight. By the end of the day the settled snow was all but gone, at least in my area, after some light rain melted most of it.

Unfortunately, the weather hasn't quite finished showing us quite how unprepared we are for the largest snowfalls we've seen in many years. I wake up this morning to hear on the radio that big fluffy snowflakes are falling and, sure enough, looking out my window confirms this. I wish I had time to appreciate the beauty but I am concerned about getting to work and making up lost time, which is tragically adult of me. There is a fresh layer of snow outside and it is still falling quite heavily, although conditions don't look too bad. Of course, everything is relative and although this small coating of snow isn't enough to make driving too dangerous stopping is another matter. I make sure to leave plenty of stopping space.

I am relieved to see that traffic is moving all along the M1, although a bit unsettled to see people driving at 60-70 mph in the uncleared outside lane. I also make a point of experiencing the heavy snowflakes falling chaotically yet silent, my own forward movement making them seem more energetic, wonderfully highlighted by the powerful streetlights. I recall when the alien family in 3rd Rock from the Sun first encounters snow and they think it is 'albino brain chiggers' and fly in to panic, which I still find amusing. I then contemplate the sight of millions of these albino brain chiggers and am strangely awed.

Traffic continues to move on the exit slip road and down the spur road, and there is no sign of the awful jam of yesterday. I manage to get to my site, but there is a small queue forming to get around the back to the staff car park already. This is probably caused by the slopes being slippery, which I find out for myself when my car starts skidding down the hill towards the braking and stopped cars ahead of me. Even travelling at 10 mph and leaving plenty of stopping room isn't sufficient at times. Not panicking, I alternately brake and steer carefully and am able to come to a halt by the side of the car in front. If I hadn't got out the way I would have gone in to the back of the car in front, there is no doubt.

Having moved my car in to the opposite lane turns out to be benefical. The queue ahead isn't moving and I don't particularly relish the idea of negotiating it either on the way in or out, so edge down the hill and turn around, parking my car in the visitor car park outside the front of site. I made it to work.

I am amused to find, when logging in to my computer, an e-mail sent by The Company yesterday informing people not to come to work or to turn around if the journey has been started, because the road to site is blocked. I'm not entirely sure how I was supposed to read that without making it to work. I am also a little relieved, because The Company making the site closure formal has credited my working hours with core hours for that day rather than having to make up the entire day, which is a considerate gesture.

At the moment, I am the only member of our small department at work, although I have heard from another who is stuck on the motorway slip road. Some chap came around to the laboratory and asked if his case was still there. It took me a moment to remember that I had put a test item of his in a chamber and heated it to 50° C, which he wanted to be held for a few hours. A couple of days later and it is still in there, although at least it has had a good soak test, which is what he wanted.

Now I am sitting back eating Chocolate Covered Hokey Pokey from New Zealand waiting for others to come in. I'll later work out how I am going to make it home in the still falling and settling snow.

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