Thursday, January 10, 2013

Just Missing the Blizzard

This evening we are having one of those winter blizzards across the entire southern half our province that is completely terrifying.  Fortunately for us here in our town we are just north of the storm by a few miles and it is pretty calm here, lots of thick ice on the streets again after a partial melt yesterday that had me and my car stuck in the back alley once again in the soft clinging piles of snow, but no fresh blowing snow disaster. The temperature has dropped nearly 20 degrees today from yesterday so what melted on the sidewalks is now a sheet of ice once again.

My husband just spent over an hour driving his usual 35 minute drive home from our other church in our other town.  He was only able to maintain a speed of about 40 km, less than half the usual speed limit, because he had the road to himself. The edge of the storm system did make it up that far. The falling snow is being picked up by the strong winds and blown across the highway to a height of between 6 and 8 feet.  As it turned out for him, the snow was not sticking in the centre of the narrow 2 lane highway and he could see the yellow line dividing the lanes for most of the drive home.  As no one else was driving out there he was able to shut off his headlights and drive with his little yellow park lights that shone down directly onto the road and prevented the snow blindness that happens when the brightness of the headlights glints off the falling, blowing snow.  The side of our car that was facing the north blowing wind is plastered with a solid 3 inches of packed snow and he is fortunate it didn't pack in around the wheel wells to the point where the car became immobilized and he would have had to risk getting out in the middle of the road in order to shovel the snow out so he could keep going. He arrived home safely about the time I was starting to worry.

To the south of us it has been a wretched week.  The Trans-Canada Highway running between Moose Jaw and Regina was closed a couple of days ago due to storms causing complete white out conditions in broad daylight.  At least 3 semi rigs jackknifed across the highway causing over 300 cars to be backed up on their way into the city for hours after the highway was officially closed to traffic.  One man was killed as he attempted to help another driver in distress because a semi driver was unable to see him due to blowing snow.  Over 50 vehicles hit the ditch all around the jackknifed semis and emergency vehicles could barely thread their way through the other vehicles stopped in the middle of the highway to get to the accident victims that badly needed their assistance.  Tonight it is even worse down there and the entire Trans-Canada highway across the south of our province is on the verge of closure.  It is a nightmare.  Many people will be unable to get to work and school in the morning as there is no way the provincial highway maintenance workers will be able to plough sufficient amounts of drifting snow and ice off that much road surface overnight. The storm is to continue into the wee hours of the morning.

So this is the "joy" of winter on the prairies.  It seems it is a bad year for winter weather all across Canada, from Vancouver Island straight through to Newfoundland.  AND we are only half way through the season with the worst yet to come.  

I am surprised that Canadians struggle so much with national pride in our identity.  All of us who can spend our lives surviving the kind of conditions we have in the winter, no matter what part of the country we live in, should be filled with pride indeed!

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