Finally, after years of waiting, the weather gods have delivered snow to London.

Weather forecasts had predicted an unusually cold week with a possibility of snow, but, unsurprisingly,  not the amounts that we received. 

The first indication of snow came on Tuesday afternoon, and after it had melted, everyone assumed that was the last of this year’s snow. Certainly nobody expected the scene they woke up to on Wednesday morning. Oliver Powell told me 'it was like a winter wonderland, the trees covered in snow and ponds iced over'. 

The vast majority of children seem elated, taking up this exceedingly rare opportunity to engage in frenzied snowball fights. By mid day, large areas of ground had been cleared of snow for an opportunistic throw into the face of a rival. A hitherto unseen variation in snowball fights was tried, with snowball duels becoming the new way of settling scores. The rules are simple: two people stand back to back, take four paces and then fire.    

2624 schools have been closed in England, but even those still open seem to have a lighter mood than usual. Snowball fights still occur at break times, and one pupil said that 'most of the lesson time is spent looking out the window at the snow'

Even teachers were glad to see the snow, with one teacher, being kept anonymous for protection, saying 'if school is called off, I won't have to make my long commute.'

However, not everyone is happy about the 'beast from the East'. Apart from anything else, it has caused widespread inconvenience, especially through delays to travel. In Kent, 50 stations have been closed, and although not closed, Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted are experiencing 'delays and cancellations'. Oddly enough, though, in snow covered Scotland, most airports are running as usual. 

But the snow has caused more than just travel disruption, having led to its fair share of tragedy. Four people in the UK have died in car crashes in the snowy weather, while one man was killed being pulled out of a frozen lake. 

Additionally, it has been the homeless who have been worst affected. With temperatures falling to -5°C in London, and -15°C in some parts of the UK, sleeping rough at night carries severe risks. Homeless charity Shelter has published advice on what to do if you see a homeless person, and have set up multiple emergency homeless shelters. 3600 people, a record number, are estimated to be sleeping rough, and there have been several recorded deaths, including in Birmingham city centre and even, with tragic irony, outside of parliament. 

One homeless man, Jack, said that he remembers when he used to wish for snow, and now prays for it not to come, fearing it might kill him. Another former homeless man, Tony, says that 'many people always look at homeless people with contempt, but when it's snowing and you're sitting there, trying to keep warm, it feels as if they're thinking that you're ruining their good day'. When talking to these men, it seemed selfish wishing for snow for a day off school.

Some areas of the UK are predicted to receive up to 40cm of snow in total, and the beast from the east will apparently only end its reign of terror on Saturday. In the meantime, the Met Office has issued red weather warnings in some areas of the south-east, indicating a risk of loss of life. 

So, as we look at the White rooftops gleaming in the morning sun, we must remember the ability of snow and the bracing cold to cause inconvenience and even devastation to some peoples lives, but equally we must recall the last lines of London Snow by Robert Bridges:
‘their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken, 
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber 
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.’

By Alfie Watkins