One of the most dismaying consequences of the arctic weather conditions currently hitting the British Isles is the effect on livestock. It isn’t entirely clear whether farmers, when considering their accident and claims cover, would think to insure against their livestock being buried by snow. We now hear these are the worst blizzard conditions for 50 years. Volunteers are helping farmers in their local areas to search for animals and dig them out, but many have frozen to death. It is particularly unfortunate that at this time of year, we would normally expect to see the new lambs in the fields. Farmers on this side of the Atlantic have had a bad time of it this last couple of years. Britain’s “weather year” lurches from one extreme to another, creating conditions of accident and claims, which in the past, we would have considered unusual or even bizarre.
This time last year, we were enjoying an early heat wave, prompting the spring breeding-season of birds and insects too soon, only to have them all drowned out when heavy rain hit, prompting a flood of accident and claims for, you guessed it, flooding. We had an exceptionally wet summer, which morphed into a wet autumn and an early cold winter, which we’ve now had for four months. Seeing the media pictures of frozen road systems and snow drifts on motorways, insurers must be bracing themselves for another round of accident and claims to be made.
On the bright side, the British traditionally love talking about the weather, so we have enough to gripe about for the whole of this year, to the exclusion of all other topics. As to be expected, the cause of the unseasonal weather is a wobbly jet stream, which would normally keep the colder air-flows in the frozen North, where they belong. The UK Met Office predicts the cold snap to last for another week or so. The usual precautionary advice applies; don’t make the journey unless it is essential, particularly at night. If you insist on going out against the advice, stock your car with emergency items; food, water, a shovel, blankets and a fully charged mobile phone.