Snow… In November?

There are plenty of perks of having an office in a small village at the edge of the Pennines: the views, being away from motorway traffic, and the friendly people you meet while walking Scooby the #dBxDog. There are also several downsides, mostly relating to the weather (and driving in it), this is something I found out first hand when snow had descended upon our little community.

Snow in Diggle

It was the morning of Friday the 18th of November when I received a message everyone hopes for but doubts will ever come; “Snow Day today, don’t come in”. A warm feeling of joy was soon extinguished by a gloomy realisation, I forgot to bring the equipment that I’d need for a survey later that day home with me. I got ready hoping that the snow wasn’t going too bad yet and that rushing out the door 40 minutes earlier than usual would mean that I miss the traffic. I couldn’t be more wrong.

Driving down my usual route, I notice that there is a lot more cars than I’d usually expect at this time. I realised that everyone else had the same idea as me about missing some traffic, so my plan was thwarted, but never mind I decided to plough on convinced that everything is going to work out fine.

After driving out of the bigger towns and heading towards the smaller towns and villages that I encounter on my way to work  the traffic suddenly got slower and slower. What on earth was going on. It turns out someone at the front of the queue was struggling to drive at more than 5 mph because of a little bit of snow. By the time I reached Mossley and Uppermill it had descended into complete chaos. There were rows of traffic in the other direction, many cars stuck in the middle of the road while other vehicles struggled to drive past. But after being stuck in queues of traffic and having a brief encounter with some sheet ice (I’ve never been ice-skating in a car before) I finally made it to work. It took twice as long, but at least my day couldn’t get any worse right?

Wrong.

Once I had picked up all the equipment I needed and started to make my way back. I knew I couldn’t go back through Mossley and Uppermill because I’d be stuck in that traffic jam for days. I decided instead to go through Oldham, I usually go home that route and I didn’t think it’d be too bad. Underestimating Susan’s warnings about how bad the hill that way gets in the snow and assuming she was just exaggerating, I confidently started to drive up it. Bad idea! I got halfway up, and then cars started to stop and form a traffic jam on the hill. My car started going more sideways and backwards than forwards while trying to pull off. After a few attempts at setting off I abandoned it and tried to find another way. Note to self: pay attention to Susan’s local weather expertise.

My new route was going well until a thick fog descended . Then while driving around a corner a fallen tree appeared blocking my way. Reflexively I swerved right to avoid it, however the back of my car disagreed and swerved left instead. Despite this I managed to avoid crashing and, after I straightened my car out, I continued my efforts in trying to find a way out of Diggle.

Lessons Learned

Eventually I made it to a larger road, it looked like it had been busier than others as most of the snow had melted. I followed this road in the hope that I finally found my way home, and I did! Getting back after 12 I was happy to finally even make it home, even if my journey did take 5 hours. At least I’ll now know not to underestimate snow warnings and make sure I take equipment home with me next time.

-Peter