In the Bleak Midwinter

The cold and snow came early to the Valley in late 2016. We missed the first big storm by hiding out in Florida but the freezing temperatures were waiting when we flew back to Montreal at the end of November.

We’ve had a taste of the Polar Vortex – that bone chilling winter weather that dips down into the minus 20s Celsius. However the PV appears to have gone back to the North Pole recently, and things actually warmed up around Christmas. We were close to freezing or slightly above some days.

Of course an early winter thaw has its own unpleasantries – you can get a moisture laden Colorado low trooping through the area. That might mean snow, or worse a bout of freezing rain. Perhaps you saw or experienced folks skating on the streets near Toronto. We had a bit more in the way of sleet around Ottawa but it was still nasty.

Right now we appear to be in a cooler pattern with a series of Alberta clipper systems visiting Eastern Ontario every few days. Each one brings a moderate snowfall, so it adds up. There hasn’t been a real Snowmageddon storm yet – the 30-40 cm variety. But it’s early days.

Beyond the cold and precip there’s the darkness. The early days of winter at latitude 45 degrees N feature the least amount of daylight. The dawn occurs reluctantly around 7:30 AM and by 4:30 PM (or earlier) it’s pitch black again.

Even on a dazzlingly sunny day like yesterday the sun doesn’t seem far away from setting. It’s always in the south – which means a trip anywhere in that direction is an exercise in snow blindness. Add in the slop and salt on the icy roads and I’m happy I don’t have any sort of regular commute these days.

Oh well. When I’m feeling blue I can always check out Facebook. My niece is working for Princess Cruises right now so I can routinely see pics of her looking tanned, buff and happy – drinking from a coconut on a beach in St. Thomas. That makes me feel so much better – especially when she remarks that the ice in her drink is melting really fast. Poor kid.

Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.
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