thar she blows!
Every time we move from somewhere that is relatively "warm" to somewhere "cold" (and I've done this 3 times so far), we find ourselves talking a lot about weather. In Winnipeg, weather is a constant conversation, even among the natives, because it's pretty changeable. I mean, the range in temperatures goes from -50F to 90F, so there's a lot to discuss.
Remember the slushy wet weather we had last weekend? Starting Sunday evening, the temperatures dropped, all that slush froze, the wind picked WAY up and the snow was much more earnest. We had what the weather reports called "Blizzard Conditions."
We're wary about these weather reports because they mean different things to different people. For instance, what do snow flurries mean?
-In Kentucky: "I saw two flakes! Two big snowflakes! Run to the store for milk and bread right away! It's a weather emergency!"
-In Buffalo, NY, that means about 1-2 inches of snow, but it depends. If you're in a region less affected by "lake effect" snow, you get a dusting. More affected? Get your shovel out, your flurries will be 3 inches or more.
-In Winnipeg, so far, flurries seem to mean a dusting of snow, around a half inch or less (1-2 cm?) and not enough to shovel. A broom will do.
So, as you might imagine, we faced our first winter here with warm coats, long underwear, and a well-earned sense of wariness. It's hard to know what to expect. If you've always lived here (wherever "here" is) you sometimes lack context for your weather explanations.
Blizzard conditions, in upstate New York or New England, mean an enormous amount of snow, falling very fast, with poor visibility and possibly some wind. Temperatures for a blizzard along the east coast of the US are often between 20-30F, near freezing. By enormous, I mean, well, a foot of snow (30cm)is not uncommon as a starting point, and 3 feet (90cm) isn't all that unusual.
Blizzard conditions here in Winnipeg seem to mean:
-more snow than usual. We got about 5"(12cm) or so on Monday.
-very poor visibility
-serious amounts of wind. So much wind that the snow on the ground hops up and joins the party and dances around with whatever is coming from the sky. (remember, practically no trees, so there are few if any wind breaks)
-colder temperatures than that earlier blizzard...compared to New England? Think northern Vermont. Darn cold.
-drifts. Lots of drifting. Drifts bigger than Harry the dog.
All of this mattered because the professor was to go to Brandon (2.5 hours west of here on the Trans-Canada highway) to give a lecture at the university there. He had planned to leave Monday. Then the authorities closed the highway to Brandon. He rescheduled for Tuesday. He decided to go to work at the university, 5 miles (8 kilometers) away.
He did ok, he got there and back. He saw a car wrapped around a telephone pole and a two car accident where someone rear-ended someone else. For the latter accident, both men were outside in the blizzard yelling at each other so he figured they were ok and drove on.
On Tuesday, the professor hopped again in my bright yellow all-wheel drive, anti-lock brake car with good clearance and drove to Brandon. He saw cars in the ditches and a bus that looked like it was shipwrecked in a snowdrift. He gave his talk, met lots of people and even went out to eat. Temperatures dropped. It was around -22F(-30C.)
This morning, there was a light snow and a good breeze of up to 30 miles(50 km) an hour. He drove home, and all was well except for one icy section where he saw a car or two flipped over in the ditch and another on the other side of the road.
He got home in time to enjoy the meeting with the heating and plumbing guys. Our (hot water) heat is working, the house is warm, but this morning at 7:30, I saw water spurting from the emergency overflow so we had a little date with the repair guys. Nothing immediately wrong, although a valve might be faulty. (spurting hot water in the basement? Still weather, right? Might be a geyser!)
I meant to talk about how plowing works here, which is also interesting, (and very different from upstate New York) but this is getting long. I'll try to do that in another post.
So, how's the weather by you? Did you find this interesting?