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Do Scots just need ‘to man up and use their brains’? Our readers react to Norway snow experts weighing in on Scottish weather

Our readers have expressed their opinions on whether the Highlands and north-east thrive or barely survive in the icy conditions.

A car covered in snow on the side of the road.
The snow has caused a lot of disruption in some places. Image: Jason Hedges/ DC Thomson

As the Highlands, Islands and north-east enter into a fourth day of heavy snowfall, it seems the white stuff has become a bit of a divisive topic.

The wintry weather has been causing school closures, transport disruption and traffic build-ups this week as it is prone to do when it hits the region.

In response to the snow confusion, we posed the question of whether – in a country used to the cold – why do we seem to be so often ill-prepared for snow?

Yesterday, we spoke to a couple of Norwegian snow and ice experts to see how they cope with the country’s annual months of snowstorms.

The topic has left readers divided.

A person running in snow in Cooper Park.
Cooper Park in Elgin covered in snow. Image: Jason Hedges/ DC Thomson.

Budget problems

The issue has stirred up a broad range of reactions and opinions on the Evening Express and Press and Journal Facebook pages.

Of course one of the first things to be pointed out is the difference in budgets.

In Norway – which faces months of snow – around £450.5 million is invested in their winter maintenance each year.

Winter tyres are also a requirement from November until Easter with studded tyres also allowed.

Hardangervidda in Norway on May 26 2023 with a car completely covered in snow.
In Norway their snowy season tends to last months from any time between September and the end of May. Image: Svenn Finden

John Crouch commented the few days of snow experienced in Scotland are not comparable.

He stated: “The big difference between us and countries that cope well is that they are almost guaranteed weeks of it every year and we get a couple of weeks of disruptive snow, about one year in three.

“Norway’s substantial investment is good value on that basis, for us it’s simply not good financial sense.”

Norway reinvests oil money – unlike Scotland?

Some people said a rise in spending on winter maintenance would help while others said the council could be more prepared and use more salt on the roads.

Emily Kate Utter who lives in Aberdeen commented: “It’s not so much an issue of people being – or not being – hardy enough, it’s an issue of the council not allocating resources.”

However, people were quick to point out the “relentless” snowfall was not helping matters.

Highland Snow.whiteout on the A9 Cromarty Bridge
Traffic in a whiteout on the A9 at Cromarty Bridge. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Caitlin Anderson stated: “To be fair the roads have been getting cleared but the snow is relentless just now. The roads are being ploughed and an hour later they’re covered again.

“They’ve always been tight on salt but we can’t blame them when they cover vast areas and want to ensure everywhere gets some.”

Vivian Robinson also said there was a reason Norway’s budget was much bigger than Scotland’s.

She commented: “Norway reinvest their oil money back into the country, so they can afford to have top-notch services. Everything is well maintained, we don’t have that in Scotland unfortunately.”

Fochabers in the snow.
Some readers encouraged people who are not confident in travelling in the conditions to stay at home. Image: Jason Hedges/ DC Thomson

‘It’s a common sense issue’

According to some other readers, it appears budget is not the only issue.

A lack of common sense, winter tyres and unnecessary journeys also play a part in causing disruption.

And Margery Swinton was not afraid to call people out.

She posted: “Folk are too soft these days. They don’t know how to drive in winter conditions and don’t put on winter tyres. They cause chaos.

“Man up and use your brains and common sense.”

Those uncomfortable with driving in the conditions were encouraged to stay at home, and people like Michael Stuart suggested putting in a bit of elbow grease.

He commented: “Throw in a little self-sacrifice in clearing your own drive and pavement and perhaps leaving the house a little bit earlier to get to work and we have a complete solution in most cases.”

Fiona Shaw with Finn on a sled along the river Dee
Fiona Shaw with Finn along the river Dee. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Others said society has simply got “soft and lazy”.

Those who grew up in Aberdeenshire such as Christine Duncan from Peterhead and Doreen Gregor from Gardenstown shared memories of walking “high in snow” to school.

Inverness resident Jan Duncan posted: “The winter of 1963 is the worst I can remember. It started snowing on Boxing Day right through to the end of March.

“We had snow drifts but we still went to school, the buses ran, milk was delivered and the post too.”

‘Snow is sensationalised’ – and we’re not as bad as England says some

While some areas are affected by weather-related disruption, many Highland and Aberdeenshire residents were quick to say it does not create chaos.

John MacLeod from Wick posted: “I think you’ll find for the majority, life goes on as normal.

“I’m still driving nine miles to work, regardless of the fact that Highland Council fails to grit or plough the road I use, it being the main road between Wick and Thurso.”

Someone running along the River Dee.
Quite a few people have argued that snow does not cause a standstill in daily life. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Teresa Hartley said the gritters were constantly out on the roads in her area and Kevin Bruce from Cruden Bay said he had never seen life come to a “standstill”.

For that, some cheekily mentioned you would have to go south of the border.

Sally Marshall posted: “Gritters and local farmers are doing a fantastic job clearing the roads in challenging circumstances.

“I lived in the south-east of England. If you want to see everything come to a standstill try going there when there is a centimetre of snow.”

Gritters in Dufftown
Gritters across the Highlands, Moray and Aberdeenshire have been praised for their hard work. Image: Jason Hedges/ DC Thomson.

Norway still has its issues too

A few readers who have spent time in Norway said not everything goes smoothly there either. Especially after power cuts and school closures have hit southern Norway.

Milltimber resident Miguel de la Serena who lived in Norway for six years said “they don’t get it right all the time either”.

Another reader, Sarah Miller, who lived in Stavanger said winter tyres and private contractors make a big difference.

She added online: “But as much as schools etc are seldom directly affected, I have had my fair share of transport chaos when the snow first hits.

“So, don’t be entirely fooled – you do feel the effects of snow on traffic and key transport infrastructure.”