Winter fun and traffic disruptions as Storm Darcy brings snow to the Netherlands
Many had been waiting all winter to enjoy some snow in the Netherlands, and while parts of the country had seen a little bit over the past few weeks, anyone who had been left wanting more may have regretted that wish after Storm Darcy brought icy winds and heavy snow to the Netherlands over the weekend.
Winter weekend fun across the Netherlands
Storm Darcy hit the Netherlands on Saturday evening, travelling northwards throughout the evening and night - and bringing lots of snow. An average of around 10 centimetres currently covers the Netherlands, with some parts of the country experiencing as much as 30 centimetres!
People up and down the country made the most of the snowy weekend, with sledging and snowball rights taking place in Dutch cities and towns on Sunday. On Monday, you can’t leave your house without coming across at least one snowman.
Anyone who was sad about missing out on a skiing holiday this year thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic used the snow to their advantage, grabbing their skis as groups of people could be seen cross-country skiing in parks and on golf courses across the Netherlands.
Road closures and public transport delays
While snow may bring a lot of fun, the Netherlands isn’t a country that is particularly well equipped to deal with this much snow. Darcy, therefore, led to significant disruption across the country.
GVB and NS cancel services, severe delays
On Sunday, Amsterdam public transport operator GVB announced they were cancelling all tram, metro and bus services throughout the city as a result of the snow. And as the snow continues to fall, the GVB announced early on Monday morning that no trams would be running, and that fewer busses and metros would be running. Bus services across the city have been running with severe delays.
NS faced similar challenges over the weekend. The rail company announced that, due to the extreme weather conditions, no trains would run on Sunday, and that while they would be running some services again on Monday, the heavy wind and ice meant there would be “many disruptions.” In a statement on Monday morning, the company said: “We cannot yet provide travellers with certainty about the number of trains, the routes and the frequency. We strongly advise travellers to consult the travel planner shortly before departure for the most current information.”
Code orange on Dutch roads
Anyone who had planned any trips over the weekend would really have struggled to get anywhere. On Sunday, the Rijkswaterstaat (Department for Public Works and Water Management) highlighted the dangerous driving conditions, asking the public to stay off the road unless it was absolutely necessary.
Heading into Monday, the Rijkswaterstaat have kept the code orange in place as driving conditions remain dangerous, particularly in the central and northern parts of the country.
Over the past 24 hours, around 30 million kilogrammes of salt have been used on roads across the country. The weather conditions mean a number of roads and tunnels across the country are closed and emergency services have had to respond to dozens of accidents.
Further disruption across the Netherlands
Beyond road accidents and public transport delays, a number of services and facilities across the Netherlands have faced disruptions as a result of the snow.
Coronavirus test and vaccination locations closed
The weather conditions were so severe on Sunday that the GGD took the decision to close all coronavirus testing and vaccination locations. Around 20.000 people were supposed to receive a jab, and a further 20.000 had booked a test. Appointments were rescheduled, and while some centres remain closed, many reopened on Monday with additional staff.
Amsterdam schools closed on Monday
Only a few days ago, the Dutch government announced that primary schools across the Netherlands could reopen on February 8. However, the snow over the weekend means that a number of schools in Amsterdam have opted to stay closed today. Many schools in Utrecht made the same decision. They hope to reopen on Tuesday.
Protesters return to Museumplein
In spite of the bitter wind and snowy roads, a number of protesters returned to Amsterdam’s Museumplein for the fourth weekend in a row in order to protest Mark Rutte and his caretaker government and the coronavirus measures. The area had once again designated as a safety risk area by mayor Femke Halsema, and while the turnout was significantly smaller than on previous weekends, police officers carried out four arrests and issued 29 fines. According to reports from local police, at one point on Sunday afternoon around 100 people were protesting.
Food deliveries cancelled on Sunday
Anyone who had booked a supermarket home delivery for Sunday was left without any food as supermarkets were forced to cancel all scheduled deliveries. Other delivery services such as Deliveroo and Thuisbezorgd also cancelled most delivery services on Sunday.
No newspapers on Monday
Almost all publishers in the Netherlands opted to cancel their newspaper deliveries on Monday, citing the dangerous travel conditions for the cancelled deliveries. AD editor in chief, Hans Nijenhuis, said the paper hated to disappoint its readers, but understood the conditions were too dangerous to send thousands of drivers onto the roads.
Dutch weather this week
So how long is this weather set to last? Well, anyone looking out the window on Monday will see that snow continues to fall. And looking ahead to the rest of the week, the low temperatures mean this snow is set to hold for at least a few days.
After Monday, no more snow is set to fall, but temperatures will continue to drop this week. The wind temperature in the Netherlands is currently between -10 and -15 degrees, and in the north of the country winds can reach up to 80 kilometres per hour. A cold snap - the opposite of a heatwave - is also expected this week as temperatures stay below 0 degrees for the coming days and reach lows of -11 degrees overnight.
The extremely cold temperatures mean rivers, canals, and lakes across the country will ice over, and any skating fanatics can look forward to skating on some natuurijs (natural ice) over the weekend. Knowing the Dutch love of skating, it’s unsurprising that many have already started to discuss the possibility of an Elfstedentocht this weekend, but organisers of the event announced in 2020 that coronavirus meant no race could take place, and acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said no exceptions to the measures will be made for races on natural ice.