Storm Ciara – 2020


Vicky Lopez, co-founder and director of De-ice, comments on winter so far following the arrival of Storm Ciara…

Given the relatively uneventful winter we have seen so far this winter, perhaps many of us could be forgiven for thinking: “phew we got away with it.” But then Storm Ciara blew in!

This week’s wintry prevailing weather, although forecast, caught everyone by surprise. But the ferocity of the high winds, and the damage caused by Storm Ciara has highlighted the harsh reality that we live – constantly – because we are at the mercy of the weather. No matter the time of year.

The extreme conditions created by Storm Ciara affected all types of travel across the country. From roads, to railways and ferries, we saw cancellations and delays across the board. Heavy snow showers also wreaked havoc, with blizzards reported, and the Queensferry crossing between Edinburgh and Fife has been closed due to falling snow and ice, causing damage to vehicles. Over the next week wintry conditions are predicted to continue, with many flood warnings still in place and yellow weather warnings covering the country.

These conditions highlight the fact that despite the mild winter much of the UK has seen so far, we cannot become complacent. Undoubtedly there will be more disruption to come, with further wind, snow and ice set to blast through the UK. Storm Ciara is a reminder of the fact that we can’t predict what type of weather we’ll be afflicted by and when. From large scale snow events in March, to wild storms and the hottest days on record we are seeing many extreme weather events, often at unseasonal times of year.

What we do know is that we should ALWAYS be prepared – no matter the weather. As a gritting and snow clearance company, we communicate the same message year after year, about the need to be armed for when the snow and ice arrive; that’s our mantra. We tell clients to ensure they protect their premises and make sure they stay open for business. It is vital for them to plan and take simple steps and put in place winter maintenance preparation. Not only do they need to focus on remaining operational, but also to ensure their site is as safe as it can be to prevent potential slips and trips.

Yet, bad weather of all kinds can have an impact, and can potentially damage an organisation physically, financially and reputationally. It doesn’t just have to be snow and ice. It’s vital to be prepared no matter the weather. Storm Ciara has shown us all that when poor winter weather arrives, it can do so with a vengeance!

All businesses should create a continuity plan that covers the following:

  • Part closure/skeleton staff that can walk to work safely while others work from home.
  • A clear winter policy so that staff know what is expected of them on a snowy, or stormy day: Will they be paid? Can they take holiday or work from home?
  • If you have zero tolerance for closure, invest sufficiently into a solution that gives you the best chance of staying operational.
  • Budget for extra expenses in case of a severe winter.
  • Plan but be flexible; although weather forecasting is accurate up to three to five days in advance, snow as an example, is the most difficult to predict and situations can change hourly. 
  • Work with trusted service providers that can guide and support you throughout the process.