Thursday 1 March 2018


Every year, everywhere, weather forecasting is getting better and better.  With satellites and far better predictive models, you can get a pretty good idea of what's going to happen about 5 days out. They have been giving [= Met Eireann forecasts] a cold snap as a chilly air-mass from Russia [L at 0600hrs today] overcomes the prevailing succession of soggy warm storms coming in from the Atlantic. Normally these Easterly winds are bone dry but occasionally they will pick up moisture from the North Sea, dump that on the East Coast of England, pick up more moisture from the Irish Sea and dump that on the Eastern side of Ireland.  That's what started for us on Tuesday evening; as I drove home from work flocky lumps of snow were whirling in my lights. I parked at the bottom of the lane and trudged 300m up-hill carrying the last bag of flour from Aldi.

Since Monday, it has been difficult to find bread or milk in the supermarkets as our collective anxiety overcomes our collective sense. If you're going to stock-pile food against Armageddon, would it not be more sensible to make that something less perishable like baked beans, or rice . . . or flour. Waterford Whispers agrees.  It's years since I bought bread for myself as I have a greedy and demanding sourdough starter to feed every few days. I parked at the bottom of the lane because I didn't want to repeat the error of January 2010. That was the last year we had a white Christmas, there weren't Moscow quantities of snow but it had drifted over the previous 4 weeks and filled the lane above out house with some places 1m deep. Snow packs about 1:10 lighter than wet water, so that was about 10cm of 'rain' standing there in the roadway. On the night of 15/16th January, the weather shifted abruptly to the tail end of a tropical storm which dumped 4-5 cm of warm rain across the country. It was enough to melt all the snow and the resulting tide over-topped the drain and swept the lane to buggery; it all finished up in a heap of wet gravel on the county road. My car was in the yard: it took a week and €1,000 to fill the canyons in the road bed and put a rough dressing of  CL 804 so that we could escape.

We don't want to repeat the error of 2009, when we ordered a load on heating oil in the second Friday of December, triggered by the announcement of an incommming cold-snap. Dau.I was going to work at a Xmas Fayre the following day and had invited a pal over to spend the night. The oil man never made it on Friday [a lot of calls on his time from the similarly unprepared]. The storm which came in that night kept two adults and three teens snowbound for 9 days. We eked out the remaining dribble of oil to stop pipes freezing, wore woolly hats in bed and huddled round the wood-stove when we weren't out building snowmen and tobogganing down the steeper fields. So we have enough oil for March; logs at hand and more in the woodshed; a bag and a half of spuds; that bag of flour; tin toms, cheese and a dozen onions. What more would anyone need? Leeks! because it's St David's Day Dydd Gŵyl Dewi. "Pryd mae’r dawnsio gwerin yn dechrau?Sing it!

Meanwhile in Cork, Dau.II is in the second week of her new job at the English Market. This foody Mecca is a fine Victorian covered market right in the city centre. It is covered but when it is open the doors are open and whatever weather is outside whistles through the arcades. Yesterday it was warmer inside the walk-in fridge 4oC than it was outside 3oC where they were slicing salami and cheese for customers who couldn't find any bread.

The country is on Red Alert for the blizzard expected at tea-time today. Buses, schools and The Institute are closed. Tesco and Lidl will be closing the tills and knocking off early this afternoon; quite possibly because there will be nothing left on their shelves by lunchtime. Even Ikea, the flat-pack giant is shuttered today in Ireland. If nothing appears on The Blob tomorrow, you can assume I'm too busy baking bread for the huddled masses who have been done out of a loaf by hoarders.

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