Snow to return tomorrowBy Alice Murphy, Hugh Fort and Lewis Rudd
February 04, 2009
Snow could make a return to Wokingham tomorrow, according to weather forecasts.
The Met Office has warned more bad weather was on the way in the next few days.
There is still a risk of ice on untreated road even though most of the snow has melted the Highways Agency has warned drivers to take extra care.
In Bracknell, Wokingham and the South East tomorrow there could be more snow, with depths of between two and five centimetres expected, the Met Office has said.
This could cause snowdrifts with the strengthening north-easterly winds.
A small risk of exceptionally heavy snow across parts of central and south-eastern England, including the area, is forecast from tomorrow with as much as 25cm falling.
Meanwhile in Wokingham, after two days of chaos, schools have reopened and people are back to work.
The world turned white, the trains stopped, traffic crawled along... and most people had the time of their life.
Snow buried the borough and despite a few minor accidents, everyone coped.
Many even revelled in it.
What has been your experience of the snowy weather? Click here.
Bernard Burton, a weather expert from Cantley Crescent, said: “We had nine centimetres of snow on Monday and Tuesday.
"It was certainly the heaviest in a few years.
"The heaviest I have recorded since I started in 1976 was in 1981, when there was 17 centimetres.
"In 1991 we had a snowfall of a similar nature and it stayed on the ground for nine days.
"I don't think that will happen this time."
Businesses boom in snowy weather - well, most of them
Suzanna Brown, assistant manager at Brown Bag in The Plaza off Denmark Street said despite the frosty conditions, business was booming.
She said: “It’s been really busy, I’d say we’ve been busier because a lot of children are coming in who would normally be at school, but the schools are closed.”
Peter Gray, of Grays Farm in Heathlands Road, said fruit actually benefits from a cold snap.
He said: “Strawberries and raspberries need a very cold spell to finish their life cycle to be ready for picking in the spring.
“It also kills off any pests or diseases which might be affecting the plants, so the weather is good for us.”
Simmi Sohal, who runs the Steamers café at the train station, was less keen on the weather.
She said: “It has been very quiet for us due to the uncertainty over the trains.
“We normally see people coming in at about 5.30am, but this time we saw them coming in and the same people leaving again at around 10am.
“On Monday, we closed at 1pm.
“More snow is predicted later this week, but I wish it would stop as it is not good for business."
Fiona Digby, supervisor at WHSmith in Denmark Street said: “We lost one member of staff due to the trains and a few people we late.
“It was quite a busy day considering there seemed to be very few people in town."
Hollie Clemence, a receptionist at John Nike Leisuresport in John Nike Way, Binfield, which has an artificial ski slope, said: "We don't have to close the slope as snow actually makes it more like real skiing.
“We get busier when it snows because normally people are learning to ski here but when it snows it gets faster and there is more grip so it becomes more like real skiing."
Mark Ashwell, owner of TradeMark Windows in Fishponds Road and chairman of Wokingham Chamber of Commerce, said: "From our point of view, the cold weather is very good as we sell more double glazing.
“We don't do much installation when the weather is like this because no-one wants their windows ripped out, but people are replacing."
Dainius Karginas, 33, manager of Caffe Nero in Peach Street, said: “We had a lot of customers because the schools were closed, we had the heating turned up and everyone could come here and stay warm.
“Apart from the fact we were busy and there was a queue everyone was very happy and all the staff made it in to work!”
Martin Andrews, manager of Winnersh Garden Centre, said: “We have seen an increase in the amount of fuel sold, both coal and logs.
“We were all here yesterday – not one member of staff was off because of the snow.”
Youngsters play while adults reminisce
On the recreation ground just off Latimer Road in Wokingham, children were celebrating the day off school with a snowball fight.
It was the deepest snow many of them had ever seen.
Francesca Evans, 10, a pupil at St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School in Easthampstead Road, said: “I had to go to school yesterday but all my friends were off. I have been playing in the snow since 7.30am.”
She and her friends Ellie Bartlett and Chloe Stevens were busily building a fort to hide behind to fend off snowball attacks.
Chloe, 10, said: “I'm hoping to have a week off and I've been practising making really hard snowballs so we can have snowball fights.”
Cllr Keith Baker, executive member for Highways and Transport, confirmed Wokingham Borough Council does not have a snowplough, as it would be too expensive to run.
In Nine Mile Ride some artistic snow fans had made a snowman standing almost six feet high, complete with a carrot for a nose.
Mike Churcher, chairman of Wokingham's Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG) said: “Everyone seems so happy. Most of the people I had meetings with had to cancel.
“It generates a feeling of community and it's amazing to see how snow brings everyone together. Everyone is talking to each other.”=
Councillor Bob Wyatt, 77, said: “I remember after the war in about 1947 there was snow on the ground for about a month.
“Back then, everything closed, you couldn't get anything apart from milk, which they somehow still managed to deliver.
“More recently, there was a big snow in Wokingham about 18 years ago but this is the most we have had since then."
Snow paralyses transport and grounds people
Regulars at Woodley Day Centre were forced to stay at home as the heavy snowfall resulted in the cancellation of its regular bus service.
The transport system provided by the day centre in South Lake Crescent was forced off the road on Monday and Tuesday as the biggest snowfall to hit the town in almost two decades played havoc with the areas roads.
Staff and officials at the centre kept in constant contact with those who visit the centre on a regular basis, while some residents were provided with a Meals on Wheels service.
Jan Hiles, who works at the centre, said staff were monitoring the weather condition on a day-to-day basis.
She said: “We have had to cancel our transport to and from the centre for Monday and Tuesday because the buses cannot get out because it's too dangerous.
“This is also reflected on people driveways because they are too icy.
“We have been ensuring people who live alone have been provided with a meal, if they wanted one, and we have been ringing around to check people are ok.
“The bad weather has meant we have had to take our buses of the road but we will continue to look at the situation on a daily basis.”
Nationally, salt reserves were running low for some councils, who said they might run out of gritting salt within days, but it was not a danger in the borough.
A spokeswoman for Wokingham Borough Council said on Tuesday: “We have had a fresh supply of salt today and we are expecting several more deliveries in the coming days.”
Doctors and emergency crews give advice
Health bosses are asking people to keep an eye on their neighbours in the cold snap.
Public health nurse Diane Clemison, from the NHS Berkshire East, said: "People who are unsteady on their feet are sensibly deciding to stay indoors while the snow and ice continue to affect their communities.
"If you live near someone who is old, disabled or vulnerable, now is the time to check they are OK."
A spokeswoman for South Central Ambulance warned people not to ring 999 unless it was absolutely necessary.
“Lots of people are ringing with chest pains but we are asking everyone to be clear it is an absolute emergency when they do call because they could take an ambulance away from a life-or-death situation.”
- Read more in this week's Wokingham Times.