Snow falling as a couple walk through Green Park in London, the United Kingdom, on Friday. The extreme weather has badly affected the city’s underground transportation system. EPA PIC

WE are hardly over the wrath unleashed by the Beast from the East when Emma came storming over and wrecked more havoc in the UK and across the continent.

Although news of the impending arrival of the beast from Siberia to our doorsteps were received days before, Britain was still not quite prepared. In fact, as a country in the northern hemisphere, it has never been prepared for any form of snowfall; be it local or from the east.

A drop in temperature and the country’s railway network, transportation are almost paralysed. Flights are cancelled, airports are closed and trains stop functioning. The roads are closed to traffic and life comes to a standstill.

With Storm Emma raging, parts of the UK had up to 50cm of snow.

It was last Tuesday that we felt the first chill, the kind not felt for many years. No amount of warm clothes or thermal inners would keep us warm. The first flurries of snow drops were quite a welcome sight.

This year, the first snowfall came in February when the first blooms of the crocus should make their appearance, but whatever signs of spring were soon buried under blankets of snow that came in torrents in the afternoon.

I was then in Oxford Street when I felt the chill getting to the bones. Made a dash to Primark to get a pair of gloves, but no such luck as hundreds other people had the same idea and intention. Gloves were sold out but there were still some woolen hats left on the shelves.

Outside, the atmosphere was almost Christmassy. Beautiful when seen from the warmth interior of the popular shopping complex. Once outside, I was almost blown away by the torrents of snow slapping mercilessly on my face.

The street, which was usually full of buses and taxis and other means of public transport, was empty; saved for pedestrians taking selfies in the pouring snow. From the shop windows of Primark, huge posters proudly displayed bikini clad models smiling seductively. The message was, we should be prepared for summer and the fun by the beach, but Mother Nature has other plans.

The underground system in London was badly affected; there were delays and closures.

There were reports of passengers stuck in one train that was stranded for 14 hours, with no heating and food. Many risked their lives by jumping down and walking along the tracks. Many stayed behind in carriages that reeked of urine as toilets were flooded and people were relieving themselves in takeaway cups.

This is also a time parents with children in school dread the most when they receive that phone call or email from the head teachers to advise them to pick up their children as the school was closing due to burst pipes and the heater breaking down.

On the home front, similar scenes were taking place; pipes frozen and flooded bathrooms were the main status of Facebookers. More than 13,000 residents are left without power in the south west of England, south Wales and the Midlands.

For those who have no roof over their heads, this is the most trying times. There are some still trying to find warmth on the pavements, but a few have been found under parked cars.

Indeed, this cold spell, up till now has claimed 15 victims; one 60-year-old man drowned in a lake trying to save his pet, a child was killed when a car skidded in black ice on the road and hit her. A 75-year-old woman, who was said to have suffered from dementia, was found dead under a parked vehicle.

There are some heartwarming news of mosques opening their doors to these homeless, regardless of their religion. On the M62, volunteers from nearby areas of Milnrow, Rochdale, brought hot drinks, food and blankets to some of those stuck in their vehicles, including a bottle of warm milk for a five-week-old baby.

The last blast of snow, hopefully, came our way last Friday, as predicted. Thousands of schools are still closed and traffic was crawling.

Pictures and video clips of the snow blanketing almost the whole of the UK are all over social media; one shows pedestrians slipping on the slippery ground, a bus swerving just in time to miss hitting a car, and a full grown man jumping in slo-mo onto a bed of freshly fallen snow in his backyard. The snow almost always brings out the kid in you.

For now, the Met Office’s red warning has been lifted, but after the snow comes the black ice, slush and floods. People will start counting their damage and making insurance claims.

As the snow melts, life will return to normal.

The bin man, at least in our neighbourhood, had arrived to collect the rubbish that had been piling up for a few days under the snow.

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