Friday, 17 February 2017

The worst of winter

We really had the worst of winter recently.

First there was freezing rain. It came down all day while I was at the office, so when it was time to go home my car looked like this:

Perfectly normal except there was a solid sheet if ice wrapped around the car, so much ice that I couldn't even open the drivers door! (In Canada they are mad enough to drive on the same side of the road as Americans, so yes, this is the drivers door).

I know the photo is pretty awful, but maybe you can get an idea of how thick it was.

All of that white is ice shavings that I created trying to get through to the glass of the windscreen. In the middle you can see I finally managed to get through and, if you look closely, the ice is about two or three centimetres thick! That isn't from the car standing there for a week, it was only there from nine to five! I was quite blown away to see such a thick layer of ice covering the wind screen wipers (you lift them up when you might get freezing rain because if they get stuck to the windscreen there is a good chance you'll break them trying to get them unstuck).

Of course, a few days after the rain we got heavy snow. Here's a short video of me driving in our office parking lot.

This is the second time I've driven in heavy snow and I realise it's better to drive in snow that no-one else had driven in than to follow in another persons tracks. For those of you that think this is obvious, it actually isn't. If you've never driven in snow all you know is that snow and ice is dangerous, you don't know that compacted snow turns into ice which is what makes snow dangerous. Before anyone has driven on it you actually get some good traction. You may laugh at me, but I thought winter tires were for diving in snow, so I didn't get them until someone mentioned to me that they operate best at 7 degrees Celsius. That was almost December already, hardly a winter tyre in stock any more.  I mistakenly believed that once the snow fell in Canada you never saw the ground again until spring.

I'm still not an expert in this snow driving so I haven't pushed it. I'm pretty sure that if I accelerated suddenly or turned sharply my wheels would lose thier grip even on fresh snow. The trip home was still fun for me, it felt like I needed a 4x4 / all wheel drive vehicle to navigate the roads. The little car I was in managed very well though. In fact I saw a big fat rear wheel drive Mustang going up a slight incline and every time he touched the gas the bum started sliding out. My theory was there was just too much power from even the slightest touch of the accelerator.

In closing I know this article makes it seem like winter in Canada is unbearable, however it has been a very mild winter. Only two heavy snowfalls so far, one freezing rain (apparently the worst one my colleagues have experienced) and a few freezing cold days that are below -10 degrees Celcius.  With those few difficulties you can actually have a lot of fun too.  There is Ice Skating, almost every where has a skating rink, here is just a list of the ones that the city of Toronto provides. If you don't have skates look out for the ones that have Skate Hire like Nathan Phillips.
Something my daughter and I love to do is toboggan.  We've only managed it twice so far because we didn't want to travel, but next winter I'm sure we will.
Then there is Skiing and Snow boarding.  I have heard of poeple going snow shoeing and then there is just staying indoors and enjoying a nice hot drink and watching the snow fall outside.
As per