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Snow and Ice

Snow and Ice

When temperatures drop below the freezing point, and there is sufficient water in clouds, it can result in snow. Snow storms can quickly cause disruption to inhabited areas if the ground temperature is cold enough for the snow to settle.

As the amount of snow builds up, road, rail and air traffic can all be affected or be brought entirely to a halt with routes made impassable or conditions too hazardous to risk travel. People can be left trapped in vehicles, with no recourse but to wait for conditions to improve or for rescue to arrive. Infrastructure is placed at risk if power generators fail, leaving vulnerable residents at risk of hypothermia.

If temperatures remain low, the snow remains unless physically removed and compacted snow underfoot forms into ice. Ice - on the surface of water or in compacted snow - makes for treacherous conditions and can result in injuries if people slip and fall. Water sources may freeze, cutting off access for residents to clean water or heat.

If temperatures rise quickly, and there are large quantities of snow and ice remaining, they may melt and cause flash floods; bringing another form of disaster to the affected area.

In addition to snow affecting inhabited areas, vessels at sea also face hazards with sea ice. Shipping routes in the polar regions can be treacherous, with conditions changing in unpredictable ways. Satellites can help to map these routes, identifying risks for vessels and locating ships which may find themselves trapped in ice.

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