Will we have snow on Hvar this year? Guest blog by Vivian Grisogono, with the advice to take no chances.
Today the British BBC website carried a short video on how to drive on snow and ice, including what to do when you go into a skid. At the end, Jonathan Visscher of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders recommended buying snow tyres – if your budget would stretch to it.
Snow tyres are obligatory during the winter months throughout Croatia. Snow is a fact of life inland, and there have been heavy falls in many parts of the country. So far, the weather in Dalmatia this winter has been sunny, often warm and sometimes wet. It would be unusual for the police to run spot checks for snow tyres on Hvar. Nevertheless, it is prudent to fit them in case of a sudden turn in the weather.
Last year we had a similarly warm and much drier start to the winter. Suddenly in February there was a cold snap with a major burst of snow which caught many unawares. In Split the snow was greeted as a novelty. People were so busy playing in it, thinking it would disappear overnight as usual, that few took the precaution of clearing their paths or door steps, with the result that Split hospital was overwhelmed with several hundred cases of broken bones over the next few days.
Travelling back from Dubrovnik just before the snow reached that far south, I went into a spin on an uncleared part of the road near Neum, despite having two new winter tyres on the front wheels. I crawled into Opuzen. The motel’s access road was completely snowbound, so I abandoned my car by the roadside. The next day I was digging it out of its cosy enveloping snowdrift when I noticed a policeman pathetically trying to prod the snow away from his car with an umbrella. He was extremely grateful when I lent him my shovel, borrowed from the motel. During the course of my hard day’s digging, I became on greetings terms with most of his colleagues as they patrolled the road or popped into the motel for their coffee breaks.
As snow tyres and chains had all sold out, I only left Opuzen when I was sure the snow on Hvar had melted, as the thought of negotiating the Sućuraj – Jelsa road in icy conditions was too terrifying. I left the snow behind at Drvenik, where the road leading to the ferry queue had been conscientiously cleared – but not the access from the road to the boat. A young mother struggled off the boat pushing a pram through the pile of icy slush, while her older children ran on ahead for a game of snowballs. The only passenger on the return journey to Sućuraj, I was glad to leave the snow behind in Drvenik.
This year I have four winter tyres, supplied and fitted at Bagy service and petrol station just outside Jelsa. Apart from having all the equipment needed to fit tyres and service cars, owner Miro Drnasin also offers the invaluable service of storing your winter tyres during the summer. Bagy d.o.o. is at Pelinje bb, 21465 Jelsa, tel: 00 385 (0)21 583 470.
If you are travelling through Croatia in winter, remember that winter tyres (or chains) are a must, not just because the law requires you to have them, but because they might just save you, your vehicle and passengers from accidents. The days are getting longer, and summer is on its way, but there is still the chance of a burst of wintry weather before we get there. If you are planning a journey which is likely to take you through snowbound areas, whether in Croatia or elsewhere in Europe, pack a shovel, boots, a torch, extra warm clothing, blankets, drinking water and food in the car. Be prudent, be prepared!