This past week has brought arctic winds, slippery conditions and impressive sites around town and the neighboring countryside. Here in Alkmaar, it can feel like a long way away from things like airport closures and other major weather problems. People seem to be able to get inside and warm.
Dreaming of ice skating on frozen canals was a large thought on the local population’s mind as this cold front made its arrival. It was evident to most that it was too early in the season to have thick ice, but it was still more fun to ponder this possibility than to worry about an icy flight out of London or Berlin.
And of course, bicycles were still trudging ahead through the snow and ice on the roads. Many cyclists were still dressed in light jackets and even riding without gloves.
It was difficult to tell from people's faces here that they were riding in arctic wind chill temperatures. They trudged on through looking the same as if it were a sunny June afternoon. Maybe some have grown up with North Sea weather riding bikes, and they simply don’t know anything different. Riding a bicycle on ice for the first time was thrilling for me and the pedestrian lady that I almost ran into, twice.
Ducks in North Holland appeared unsure of what to do with the canals freezing over. They were noisy and would congregate on the edges of the ice, and move about more restlessly than usual. USA Today reported "freezing ducks in lakes" in Poland, and the Belfast Telegraph wrote that ducks had to be rescued from frozen lakes there. One question I have is, “How does one rescue a duck from a frozen lake?”
Bicycle traction, skating and well being of ducks were the larger concerns around Alkmaar, but a variety of problems - including about 40 deaths - came with the weather around Europe. The roof of a building housing low-level radioactive waste at the Flamanville nuclear power station in France partially collapsed under the weight of snow on Friday, causing minor concerns.(AFP)
In Switzerland, Geneva's University Hospital cancelled non-urgent operations last week to cope with a massive flow of broken bones caused by people slipping and falling in icy conditions. (AFP) And in Poland, Police were carrying out street patrols in hopes of getting drunks and homeless people into shelters since they make up the bulk of those who freeze to death each year. (Belfast Telegraph)