Winter gear(8 Posts)
OK. This might seem odd but we're moving for a few months to Cambridge from a place that gets a lot of snow and very cold weather in the US (winter temps can be -20C). My kids are registered to school, and when I look at the school sites in Cambridge they talk about inclement weather policy -- what does that means? snow? rain? should I pack the snowsuits and warm boots for the kids or just rain boots and rain coats? How does one dress their kids in January-March/April in Cambridge? trying to plan the packing for the winter...
Basically the inclement weather policy is normally just about what happens if it snows. Presuming you're not from the UK originally a short explanation :
Basically every few years, we get a 'reasonable' amount of snow, that's reasonable for the UK ie we get maybe 3-5cm (am talking about in Cambridge area) over a few hours. Unlike where you're from we don't have the infrastructure or kit to really handle that amount of snow so it causes a disproportionate amount of disruption sometimes, especially if it falls overnight when no-one is on the roads or very fast during the working day and buggers up rush hour.
Schools will have a policy that states generally they will try to keep the school open, explain how to find out if it's closed (generally check the website but also local radio may announce it) but with the caveat that it's down to parents to decide if the journey in is safe or not. Similarly if it snows hard during the day and you live out in the sticks you have the right to get your kids before it gets bad.
To give you an idea, we've had bugger all snow for the last few years. About 9 or 10 years ago we randomly had about 3 winters on the trot when it snowed quite hard in the run up to Christmas. About 15 years ago, the snow came in from the North East suddenly during the afternoon, Cambridge was totally gridlocked and the M11 (main motorway that goes to the west of Cambridge was blocked and 100s of people spent the night in their cars). It took me 5 hours to cross from one side of Cambridge to the other and I gave up trying to get home at Duxford (village outside Cambridge) and spent the night at friends, the following day all the schools were shut.
Cambridge has an odd microclimate - the biggest problem is the wind which if it's coming from the East is bitterly cold (there are no mountains/hills between us and Scandinavia/North Eastern Europe/Russia). I used to live in South Germany where it got to -14 at night and not above freezing in January at all but could find Cambridge bitingly cold on those windy days. They are not constant though, it will be random days.
Depending on the age of your kids you might find that even though they have all the cold weather gear, they might not wear it - it's a British thing, wearing coats as a teenager is not cool. I never wore one although I sure as hell do now.
Basically hats, scarves, coats and gloves will do you. Again we don't have the need for (or culture) of furry/fleece lined boots, lots of layers etc. It will definitely feel warmer than where you're from though.
March/April could go either way - we've had snow and frost at Easter occasionally if it's early in the spring, equally it can be in the teens and lovely and mild - at which point everyone will crack out the Summer clothes in case we don't get a decent summer. We like to make the most of any weather that isn't grey and drizzly - hence we will make snowmen when there's barely a covering and BBQ when the temperature hits about 17 degrees .
Ok - not a short explanation, but you did ask about British weather .
One last thing - if you're living in Cambridge you'll have no probs getting around, if you live in a village, it can be surprisingly hard to get about if it does snow, main roads will be gritted but the side roads and lanes to get to the main roads frequently aren't on the gritter routes (see comment above about not having the infrastructure to deal with snow).
One more update to illustrate the randomness. It's 15 degrees warmer today here than it was last week. Then it was -5.5 and I was in thick parka, boots, hat, scarf etc. Today I'm waiting for a train and it's 10 degrees and I'm in a leather jacket and thin jumper.
"you did ask about British weather"
I remember that winter of the M11 snow. I was trying to get a bus from Fulbourn back to where I was living in the city centre, it never turned up! Managed to get a friend to give me a lift to the outskirts then trudged through the snow for 2 hrs in completely inappropriate clothing.
There was a good few weeks of snow on the ground in Jan-Feb-Mar 2013, that was deep enough to need paths digging in it (i.e. about 3 inches!). That's the last time it really snowed here. You'd be much better off preparing mentally for endless grey drizzle and wind. Full sets of waterproofs for needed for school walk, and depending on the age, school sometime ask for wellies to keep in school for wet play times.
Ps degrees are in celsius not fahrenheit over here.
My Mum lives in Ohio and despite all the snow she gets there if she comes here in Winter she always feels the cold because of the damp. Also generally you can't park as close to places as you can in the US so you may need to do more outside walking than you woukd in the US. (No malls as such in Cambridge)
When it's cold, it might be around zero in the day. Little kids will wear coats, hats and gloves to school. Teenagers, like my DD (13), however will head out the house with no coat and bare legs. Coats aren't cool apparently, and it's not cold enough to actually die from the cold on a short journey.
Inclement weather policy = Policy about closing the school if it snows and the teachers can't get to work
and the kids are unteachable anyway because they're so excited by the snow
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