Weatherwatch: popularity of naming gritters snowballs

<span>Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA</span>
Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

At this time of year, local authorities roll out their snow-clearing machines, and with them a host of ridiculous, pun-filled names. In Scotland, there is a tradition of giving gritting lorries names suggested by the public. Some of these are proudly Scottish: Chilly Connolly, Robert Brrrns and Lew-ice Capaldi. Others go further afield for wordplay, giving us Gritney Spears, Lord Coldemort, For Your Ice Only and Grit Expectations.

Star Wars fans seem to have some influence judging from the numbers of gritters with names inspired by George Lucas’s work. These range from the reasonably obvious Snow Trooper and Luke Snowwalker to the more imaginative Han Snow-lo and Darth Spreader, and the illustrious Snowbegone Kenobi.

The Minnesota Transportation Department has copied Scotland and also selects names for new snowploughs from public suggestions. The winners tend to have a Minnesota connection: Blizzard of Oz, for example references The Wizard of Oz starring Minnesotan Judy Garland, and The Big Leplowski comes from The Big Lebowski created by the Minneapolis-born Cohen brothers. But Star Wars sneaks in here too with Snowbi Wan Kenobi and Darth Blader.

And, perhaps inevitably given the source of the names, some of Minnesota’s roads are now being cleared of snow by a vehicle called Plowy McPlowface.