The Netherlands is gearing up for a period of wintry weather set to last until next weekend at least, and the KNMI weather bureau has issued a code orange storm warning for all of the country apart from Groningen and Friesland on Saturday night.
The storm, coupled with low temperatures and freezing winds, will cause dangerous conditions and drifting snow outdoors, the KNMI said. The storm, driven by freezing winds from the east, has been named Darcy by the Dutch meteorological office.
Train company NS and track operator Prorail have already said that reduced services will run on Sunday and Monday, when the worst of the snow is expected, and snow ploughs are on standby. Frozen points, which stop trains shifting track, are likely to be an issue.
Zondag 7 februari #codeoranje voor #sneeuwjacht wegens #StormDarcy. Kans op vorming van #sneeuwduinen en #gladheid. In het noorden minder #sneeuw,maar wel #codegeel voor zware #windstoten. #knmiwaarschuwing https://t.co/dpPyZhecVg pic.twitter.com/epoemEqQoi
— KNMI (@KNMI) February 5, 2021
The transport ministry’s road department has also prepared hundreds of trucks with grit and salt and readied 350 snow ploughs to try to keep the roads clear. However, the fact that fewer cars are on the roads because of the 9pm curfew will mean the grit takes longer to take effect, a spokesman told broadcaster NOS.
Shop keeper Roderik Kolfoort from Ootmarsum in Overijssel told local paper Tubantia he has sold 400 red plastic sledges since the snow rumours began.
On auction site Marktplaats, ‘skates’ has become the most searched-for term and 10,000 new adverts for skates have been uploaded. Old sledges are being sold for as much as €60.
With non-essential retailers closed because of coronavirus, online sales are going through the roof. ‘Our sons have been roped in to help with the deliveries,’ skate shop owner Martin Mijnten told NOS.
The regional safety board association has published its own guidelines for safe skating during the pandemic, with limits on group size, social distancing and a reminder that there is still a curfew.
Local skating clubs are also gearing up for winter. ‘People who stopped being a member years ago are signing up again,’ Pim van Essen chairman of the Nova Zembla club in Spaarndam, north of Amsterdam, told NOS.
Many Dutch towns and villages have a local ice club where locals gather to skate on a frozen field or on a car park which has been sprayed with water during longer periods of frost.
Prime minister Mark Rutte took time out at his regular Friday press conference to warn people to be careful on the ice. ‘Don’t fall over, the hospitals are full enough already,’ he said.
Asked if the closure of testing centres during the cold snap was an issue, Rutte said: ‘We are expecting -10 degrees and snow storms. Sometimes you just have to make way for the weather.’
Weather forecasters now say the freezing temperatures will last until Friday at least, and that it could remain as low as -7 during the day.
Most of the snow, first predicted for the north, is now likely to fall in the middle of the country, with more towards the border with Germany.