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Jan
25
2013

The Wigan Snow Down

Sometimes at work there are assignments that just have to be in on time, and this Friday was no exception. Hanging on at work as long as I could, I assisted a colleague to ensure timely submission of a report before planning to head off for the weekend, but it soon became clear that home time was going to be governed by the weather rather than workload.

Snow falls

Snow had been well forecast and publicised on all the TV channels for the best part of a week, warning of the expected bad weather this weekend, but if last weekends forecast of a  snow storm was anything to go by, I was sure to be able to finish my work and have no problems getting back to Burnley. As I was discussing work with my colleague, I started getting text messages and warnings in various forms from Lin and other friends telling me that the snow was coming down thick and fast, and was laying. We completed our jobs and both agreed we would head for the hills before things got too bad.

The weather is usually more severe in Burnley than Wigan so I was still a little apprehensive about the accuracy of the bad weather accounts I’d been hearing, but off I set turning the lights out behind me. Walking out to the car, all the pathways and car park were covered in around 2 inches of snow, and the car needed the snow scraped from all the windows and headlights before I could proceed. The weather wasn’t overly cold, but the temperature was definitely right for snow in these parts.

Slow going

Driving with caution through the car park and out onto the main roads, I expected the drive to be relatively easy, but the roads were absolutely covered, as though the gritters hadn’t even been spreading salt, regardless of all the warnings. Given the depth of snow, I opted to stick by the major roads on the way home instead of my usual route out of Wigan through Shevington. Not sure whether that was a good choice or not, as all traffic was crawling on this usually very busy route, which it does most days anyway, but was even slower due to the deepening snow. Most drivers were really showing a degree of caution in their actions, and most drivers were courteous, which is nice to see.

Approaching Standish the traffic was moving at a snails pace until around the Ashfield Park area, where there is a long upward incline, when all the traffic stopped. Sat there for a while, we waited whilst the snow was building up on the road between vehicles, but couldn’t make out what was causing the delay at first, but then a car almost on the brow of the hill turned it’s hazard lights on. Due to the weight of traffic coming down the hill on the opposite side, there was no way around the car any time soon, so we were stuck like this for what seemed to be an age. I was beginning to be glad I had rock salt a shovel and sand in the boot, along with a few chocolate bars, as it was looking like it could be a long night.

Side shift

Then a truck driver from behind the distressed car must have offered a hand and helped get the car to the side of the road out of the way. It took quite  a while for the following traffic to get moving again due to all the previous tyre tracks having been covered by the heavy snow falling. When I got moving again at snails pace, I eventually passed the vehicle. It was a rear wheel drive car, and not the first time this week I’d seen a rear wheel drive vehicle in distress. Looks like the driver had gotten stranded and with help, had managed to get the vehicle off the road. Unlucky, just glad I stick with front wheel drive cars when we have weather like this.

It took about an hour to get out of Wigan and onto the M6, where the motorway was quite clear northbound, and seemed to be flowing quite well in both directions. There were some bad patches so there was not much chance of making good time, although there were some drivers that thought if they got up to the vehicle in front with main beam headlights on, and only a few feet from my rear bumper they would somehow influence me to drive faster in these hazardous conditions. I’m happy to disappoint such reckless idiots.

Snow shoveling

Onto the M65, and the traffic eased a lot although the snow coverage was worse as a result, in places. I felt quite comfortable and all seemed to be making good progress although still at much reduced speed. Getting off the motorway in Burnley, it was clear the local snow plough crews had been out and about, doing their thing as the roads were really in good condition, even Rossendale Road apart from the snow drifting from the fields covering the cleared areas. Even so, that was not impassable and gingerly taking the side roads when I neared home assured a safe and not unpleasant journey.

When I got home I found our neighbour out shoveling snow from his driveway, and road outside his house. I didn’t now if he was planning on spending all night shoveling snow since it was really coming down still, and showed no signs of easing. That’s not a game I’m interested in playing, and even he was being encouraged to quit by his wife stood on the doorstep. I didn’t even plan on spreading any rock salt tonight, as without it being disturbed it would not really start breaking down the snow anytime soon. Instead I checked with Lin, that we were done outside, that the parents were all sorted before putting the car away and restocking coal and calling it a night. That snow looks set in for the night.

Summary: We got to get out of this place

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